Friday

14 May 2010

"And they cast lots for them and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles." (v.26)

Background

Following the death of Judas Iscariot - the disciple who had betrayed Jesus - it was felt necessary to appoint someone to replace him. Jesus had originally chosen 12 disciples (Luke 6:12-16) who were to "sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:30). Matthias and Joseph Barabbas - the two candidates for this position - are both thought to have been amongst the 70 whom Jesus had sent "ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go" (Luke 10:1). Despite the significance given to this appointment, Matthias is never mentioned again, and the 12 do not appear to have played a prominent collective role in the early Church.

Peter has already emerged as the leader of the community. It is he who stands up to address and chair the meeting. He quotes from the book of Psalms (Psalm 69:25109:8), which indicates that the Jewish Scriptures remained a source of authority for the followers of Jesus. Peter also makes it clear that being a witness to the resurrection is the primary task of the apostles and that the person to be appointed must be someone who has been with Jesus throughout his earthly ministry.

In this opening chapter of Acts we move from the ascension of Jesus into a business meeting! There is a time for prayer before the election, and reference is made in the verse immediately before Peter's speech that the community "were constantly devoting themselves to prayer" (Acts 1:14). Nevertheless, this already seems to be a very different way of being 'church' than the model Jesus had given. He had prioritised prayer, teaching, pastoral care, healing and mission. As soon as Jesus had ascended into heaven, his followers turn to the administration, bureaucracy, meetings and appointments which take up so much time and energy in contemporary church life.

To Ponder

Do you think Peter was elected as chairperson or was self-appointed? How are appointments made in your church and/or community?

When was the last time you had a choice between two options? What or who helped you to come to a decision?

How do you/your church determine your priorities? How do you know if you have got it right?

Bible notes author: Revd Nicola Vidamour

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