Saturday after the Festival of the Ascension of our Lord
Scripture: Acts 1:12-26 (NKJV)
1:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, 16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; 17 for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.”
18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. 19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)
20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
‘Let his dwelling place be 9desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’
21 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
“And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias.”
Earlier this week we observed that eleven was the ‘wrong’ number. Jesus is Israel reduced down to one holy Man. In calling twelve disciples, our Lord was making for Himself a New Israel, and that is us, the holy Church.
The Eleven also knew that there needed to be a twelfth. There were qualifications that twelfth man would have to meet: one who had been with them for the whole of the Lord’s ministry, and one who was a witness of His resurrection. But two men were found to meet those qualifications. How does one decide? How would people answer today? Which one is the better public speaker? Which one is healthier, stronger, more attractive, more dynamic? The disciples have none of that. They simply entrust the matter to the Lord, and they draw lots.
So too today; by whatever earthly mechanism a man is made a pastor, we trust God to use that to place the right man in the right place at the right time. And then we rejoice to receive the sin-forgiving gifts—Word and Sacrament—which God has called that man to distribute.
Prayer: Oh God, You have told us that with Your called and ordained servants You place ‘spiritual treasure in earthen vessels.’ Grant us grace to overlook the earthenness of the vessels, and instead to receive all the spiritual treasures that You give us through them. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.