"'Judas must now be replaced. The replacement must come from the company of men who stayed together with us from the time Jesus was baptised by John up to the day of His ascension, designated along with us as a witness to His resurrection.'
"They nominated two, Joseph Barsabbas, nicknamed Justus and Matthias. Then they prayed,’ You, O G0d, know every one of us inside and out. Make plain which of these two men you choose to take the place in this ministry and leadership that Judas threw away in order to go his own way.' Then they drew straws. Matthias won and was counted in with the eleven apostles." Acts 1:22-26 (The Message).
These men had a long way to go. It is not difficult to see how they were still functioning under the old Jewish religious system of "drawing lots" and assuming that God would direct them by this method as He had done in the past. At this point they knew no better and we cannot blame them for doing what they knew.
From this interlude it seems that there were more than just the twelve disciples that accompanied Jesus as He traversed the Holy Land. There were the women who came with Him from Galilee (Luke 23:55), and there were these two men who were hangers-on from the start of His public ministry right up to His ascension, although their names are not mentioned until now. They were chosen from a group who had travelled with Jesus and His disciples.
We have to ask the question, 'If Jesus wanted to replace Judas, why didn't He do it Himself during the forty days He was with them?' Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias must still have been with them right up to where they were in the upper room, doing their voting.
A second question puzzles me. If they selected two men, and they did the voting, how did they know that they had selected the right man? They prayed, yes, but God had not indicated to them that this was the way He had chosen to replace Judas. They simply went ahead, assuming that they would have His leading.
Compare this process with the one recorded in Acts 13:1-3: "In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers:...while they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off."
We have two examples of the way in which the believers chose men for the ministry, the one before and the other one after the day of Pentecost. We are living in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit and yet many of our practices resemble pre-Pentecost ways - voting and "casting lots" to choose leaders; having cake sales and bazaars to garner finances for the church when the instruction of God's Word is clear - give, share, sow; going to court against fellow believers instead of bringing it to the church and so on.
The Christian life is a partnership with God - we act and He responds to our obedience. Yet in practice we are often no different from the world. It should not be a surprise that the world takes the church with a pinch of salt, most of the time, because we wear our title but we are just like them.
Jesus' parting words were, ''...when the Holy Spirit comes on you...'" Acts 1:8 (NIV). Let's remember that He has come and that He makes all the difference to the way we do life now.
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