Thursday, September 29, 2016

Jesus' New Apostle: Who Was? Who's Next? (Acts 1:16-22)

“[Prayer meeting] went on for several days. During this time, on a day when about 120 people were present, Peter stood up and addressed them as follows: ‘Brothers, it was necessary for the Scriptures to come true concerning Judas, who betrayed Jesus by guiding the mob to him… So now we must choose someone else to take Judas’ place and to join us as witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. Let us select someone who has been with us constantly from our first association with the Lord – from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us into heaven
(Acts 1:16, 21-22, The Living Bible)

Judas’ life was very tragic. Judas was “chosen to be an apostle” (v.17) but he betrayed Jesus. After he “bought a field with the money he received for his treachery,” he then “falling headlong there, he burst open, spilling out his bowels” (v.18). But Matthew 27:5-7 explained that Judas “threw the money onto the floor of the Temple and went out and hanged himself… the chief priests talked it over and finally decided to buy a certain field…” Is this a contradiction account? No, I think when Judas hanged himself, his dead body fell headlong (head first). And when the Scripture said Judas bought a field it was actually the chief priests who bought it using Judas’ treacherous money because they cannot take back the ‘blood money.’ So, technically, the field bought by and belong to Judas. No contradiction. The point is: Judas betrayed Jesus, he then hanged himself, and his money was used to buy a field.

The apostle Peter realized that someone should be appointed to take the place of Judas, who had fallen into sin, and committed suicide. He remembered two verses in the book of Psalms and one particularly says “Let his work be given to someone else to do” (Acts 1:20, Psalms 109:8). Interpreted as someone should take Judas’ place as an apostle. For me, it is a terrible thing to do works for God in the beginning but because of sin – continuous sin without really repenting from it – God rejected him and have another take it over. May this will not happen to us!

So the apostles lead by Peter selected two men who had also been with the Lord Jesus from the beginning and were witnesses of His baptism, death and resurrection. Their names were Joseph Justus (also called Barsabbas) and Matthias (v.23). Then they “prayed for the right man to be chosen: ‘O Lord, you know every heart; show us which of these men you have chosen as an apostle to replace Judas the traitor, who has gone on to his proper place” (v.24-25). Then they cast lots and the lot fell on Matthias, who was therefore numbered with the apostles [although we never hear of him again]. Casting lots? No, we don’t need to do that anymore. Now that the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures has been given, we don’t need to cast lots to know God’s will. But we do need to know these, as a conclusion:

#1 Being an ‘apostle’ or as Christ’s follower in general, doesn’t guarantee good ending. Don’t be like Judas, who betrayed Jesus in the end. We need to keep believing in Him; #2 God already chose who would become our leader. It doesn’t mean we don’t need to pray but all the more this should encourage us to pray so that God’s will become our will’s [Note: Many people nowadays claim to be an ‘apostle’, these are the qualifications outline by Peter: 1) He must be someone who have accompanied the apostles all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among them; 2) He must be someone who are there beginning from Jesus’ baptism to the day when He was taken up to heaven; and 3) He must be someone who witnessed Jesus’ resurrection. Now, are the self-claimed ‘apostles’ today fulfilled these criteria? Fyi, I believe in apostolic ministry] and; #3 Though you might not be the chosen leader, like Joseph Justus, in Christ you are chosen of God! Amen.


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