15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers[a] (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, 16 “Friends,[b] the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17 for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”
21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” 23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place[d] in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:15-17; 21-26 NRSV)
There was an elephant in the room.
A large, imposing, heart breaking elephant.
Being with the risen savior would have been amazing and absorbing. The Apostles had much to learn in those weeks before Jesus ascended to heaven. But, after he ascended, and they returned to Jerusalem, the awful hurt of Judas’ betrayal and death would have fallen over them like a burial shroud.
Judas was the man with whom they had spent time, collected money, and taught and healed. This was the man they had trusted. And he turned on Jesus and the disciples at the last minute and everything turned horribly bad.
How do you cope with that kind of betrayal? How do you express your anger and hurt that mixes with a broken heart because of broken trust. They decide to remain in constant prayer. It becomes apparent to Peter that the broken circle of 11 must begin to heal.
When you’re wondering what to do, the Bible is a good place to look. Peter used some Psalms to help him explain their situation. Then he suggested the criteria: it had to be a man, who had been with Jesus since the time of John’s Baptism ministry. Most important of all, he had to have been a witness to the resurrection.
Nominations were accepted and two names entered onto the slate: Joseph called Barsabbas, aka Justus and Matthias.
Before you vote it’s always good to pray. This prayer is simple: “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these you have chosen…”
They roll the dice and it falls to Matthias. And we never hear about him or Justus again in the Bible. How did Matthias feel being the chosen one? How did Justus feel being the not chosen?
It could be argued that Peter had jumped the gun and worried more about structure than prayer. After all, some would say, they were told to remain in Jerusalem until they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit. However, it’s so much easier to organize and plan than to remain in constant prayer. Filling that empty job left by Judas makes you feel as if you’re doing something. Sitting in prayer feels like a waste of time.
Church members often feel as if conducting a business meeting is not sacred; as if God isn’t in attendance. However, if God is omnipresent (present everywhere) than isn’t God present at the board meeting with the Holy Spirit at work?
It could be argued that Peter rushed the process. It’s a good reminder that prayer and discernment are critically important to planning and action.
We can only begin to imagine the hole left by Judas must have been horribly painful. I wonder if in prayer Peter sought God’s healing and discerned God saying, “go ahead and fill the emptiness. I’ll help you choose.”
The nominating process would have been an activity laced with pain and cathartics and relief. The men chosen were men who filled the criteria, but they also had gifts and talents that the 120 believed made them good candidates for filling the fracture left by Judas’ deceit and betrayal.
I can feel tension dissolving in the room when Matthias is selected. They can move forward into their largely unknown future with a sense of completeness of “The Twelve.”
Where and how do you find healing when your heart breaks? Who and what are the heart breakers? How does prayer help you find the solace you need so that you carry on?
When Jesus was raised from the dead, God displayed that nothing, but nothing, can destroy God’s plan for salvation in the world. Because Jesus lives, we can live prayerfully and use our own talents and gifts to discern God’s call to heal and lead in our corner of the kingdom.
All glory and honor be to God.