Need to choose a Thirteenth Apostle? You can’t just go to Central Casting and ask for one. There is a lot to consider..
After Judas committed suicide, it was deemed necessary to replace him. There had been twelve almost from the beginning. Surely the disciples were aware of the number, which was significant to the Hebrew people. In Scriptural terms, it signified strength and power. There were twelve tribes, and twelve spies sent to scout the Promised Land. Elements in the Tabernacle were accordingly in lots of twelve, such as the unleavened bread, the plates and the sacrifices. It surely made sense that the disciples would restore their number to the appropriate symbolic number.
A Time-Honored Process
As they met in the upper room, the disciples followed a time-honored method, selecting likely candidates and casting lots. (Traditional Jewish wisdom held that God would reveal his will via this method, even if it seems cultural, or even a bit like flipping a coin… Even though decision makers would pray and seek God’s will, they still tended to rely upon a process that much of their society also used—kinda like modern search committees…)
“So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.”
Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:23-26, NIV).
Still, A Time-Honored Process…
Churches everywhere today follow a pretty secular template to selecting people to be on staff. They review resumes, conduct interviews, and they select the candidate who seems most worthy based on the process. They differ from mere business interviews because they pray over their selection, and they certainly ask the Lord to provide them with the one whom He has called. The current model that churches follow today is actually still very similar to the one used by the Apostles. (With the exception of casting lots, which was actually considered a good indicator of God’s will in first century Jewish circles.)
I have no doubt that the disciples had good intentions and followed the best process they knew, and Matthias was a good man. But, here’s the thing: This is the LAST time Matthias is mentioned in the New Testament. I am sure he was an honorable man who had a meaningful ministry, but his name never comes up again in the records of the growth and development of the early church. He was chosen to be an APOSTLE, so his credentials were undoubtedly good. And the disciples followed the cultural formula to select him. So why am I pointing to this process?
A Different Way
Because meanwhile, through another process, God acted to provide his own replacement for Judas. He’s not a candidate that was on any of the disciples’ radar. It was a guy named Saul of Tarsus, whose name was changed to Paul. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.
We often turn to our own ingenuity and wisdom to try to carry out God’s mission, forgetting that the one irreplaceable factor is the power of His Spirit working within us. Let’s not forget that all the processes in the world can’t hold a candle to being selected, motivated and empowered by the Living God!
Disciples did the interview, and got the candidates down to two,
Proceeded in they way they knew by casting lots from which they drew.
Matthias’ name became selected, so he was the one elected.
Though he was named Apostle then, we never heard from him again!
Meanwhile, God sent out a call to a Pharisee whose name was Saul:
A persecutor full of hate, a most unlikely candidate,
Who had to have a brand new start–
God changed Saul’s name, and changed his heart.
Just remember, understand that processes designed by man
Are doing things as best they can but they cannot replace God’s plan.
If you question this at all, just think of the Apostle Paul,
On whom God’s grace was once bestowed
right there on the Damascus road!
God’s choice in this was simply plain;
Instead of trying to explain,
Just read what Paul once wrote again:
“To live is Christ, to die is gain!”
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