Monday

“And the lot fell on Matthias...” (v. 26)

Acts 1:15-26 Monday 15 May 2017

Psalm: Psalm 15


Background

Today is the Feast Day of St Matthias, about whom virtuallynothing is known outside this passage. The way his story is toldmay give the impression of him simply being a person who happenedto be around at the right time. But a closer look at the backgroundmay offer some scope for a deeper meaning to be found in hisexample.

Our passage begins with Peter addressing the believers gatheredin Jerusalem after Jesus' ascension (verse 15). Given the symbolicimportance of numbers in this passage, it's worth noting that thereare about 120, that is 12 times 10, or tenfold the number ofdisciples. Peter tells them what is already known about Judas, howhe was numbered among the disciples, how he betrayed Jesus, how hewas rewarded for this and what he did with the money, how hesubsequently fell and died in the field he had bought.

It is clear from Peter's account that the punishment for Judas'apostasy was understood to be no accident but rather a fulfilmentof the Scriptures, of that "which the Holy Spirit through Davidforetold concerning Judas" (v. 16), for he quotes from Psalm69:25: "Let his homestead become desolate, and let there be noone to live in it" (v. 20).

It is also clear that the story doesn't stop with Judas' death,as there a replacement needs to be appointed, both to complete thecomplement of twelve disciples chosen by Jesus as part of therestoration of Israel and also to fulfil what is foretold inanother Psalm 109:8 "Let another take his position of overseer" (v.20). There are two candidates eligible from those who have beenwith Jesus since the time of his baptism, Joseph Barsabbas, knownalso as Justus, and Matthias (verse 23). The disciples first praytogether and then draw lots, and as we know "the lot fell onMatthias", who is then added to the other eleven apostles (verse26).

The fact that this is all we know about Matthias may appear tomake this a fairly perfunctory account, an example of someonesimply 'making up the numbers'. However, numbers matter to Peterand his colleagues, because they symbolise Jesus' mission to Israeland the continuity of ministry which the apostles will exercise inJesus' name. More than this, the account of finding a replacementfor Judas is a reminder that the story of the Apostles continues,that tragedy and betrayal will not undermine their work; for when'another one bites the dust', God is always able to raise upsomeone else to replace them.


To Ponder

  • Have you ever felt you were there simply to make up thenumbers? How did that make you feel?
  • Or does the example of Matthias remind you that our calling issometimes to be a part of something bigger, to contribute as partof a bigger whole?

 

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