14 May 2019

Acts 1:15-26

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

Psalm: Psalm 15


We seem to be surrounded by lotteries and the object is to win. Actually it isn’t. The object is to extract money from people in a way that is apparently less painful than taxation. This is to fund things that a civilised society would provide as a right to all from common wealth. And if that sounds cynical I don’t apologise. The sad, I almost want to say immoral, downside of this is that many people who buy lottery tickets are those who can least afford them and who are in the greatest need of winning. Lay out the odds in any cold statistical way and this is clearly not a sensible way of investing scarce resources.

In that light, it seems crazy that the successor to Judas should be chosen by drawing lots. But perhaps it is not so daft.

Let me explain what I mean. Lotteries were a way of discerning God’s spirit. The winner of this Biblical lottery gets to be an apostle. As a disciple he has been a learner. Now he is to be sent out to be an ambassador for Christ, to represent Jesus. You remember the story of James and John seeking to be on Jesus’ right and left hand when he came into his kingdom? Perhaps you have not remembered that the next time someone is pictured on Jesus right and left is at the crucifixion. Jesus could not offer this honour, but some honour! This lottery win seems to be something few would want. "We have been crucified with Christ" we sing with smiling faces at Easter! We take the challenge to discipleship all to lightly, it seems to me. And it offers far more than most of us would seek to own. A short straw indeed, but if we really want to follow Jesus that is what is on offer. Discipleship has a real cost and if it doesn’t then perhaps we are not disciples.


To Ponder:

  • What are you willing to do to be a disciple?
  • What has your Christian discipleship cost you personally?

Bible notes author

The Revd Andrew Pratt

Andrew is a Methodist supernumerary presbyter, Honorary Research Fellow at Luther King House, Manchester, and author. He has written over 1,450 hymns.

Share this