|Waiting for the Harvest…by M. Lewis|
In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong[d] he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and‘Let another take his office.’”
So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. – Acts 1:15-26 ESV
I like Matthias. No, seriously, I do. The story of how Matthias came to be the apostle that replaced Judas Iscariot is one of my favorites in the book of Acts. It’s not a dramatic accounting – it is quite simple and straightforward. I think I like it because of what it lacks.
Matthias’ story lacks the flash and bang. There are no extraordinary works associated with Matthias. He was one of the 120 that gathered in Jerusalem, waiting for the promised Holy Spirit per Jesus’ instruction. We know he had been with them from the beginning, “beginning from the baptism of John until the day [Jesus] was taken up from [them]”. He was brought forth, along with Justus, to be a viable replacement because of his faithfulness during Jesus’ earthly life and ministry. This meant, that even after the crowds who were only following Jesus for the miracles and healings abandoned Him because His teaching became too challenging, Matthias stuck by Him, and followed Him – and was there to bear witness to the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead.
That’s all we know of him. If that is any indication of his life as an apostle, we can safely assume that he was faithful to Jesus to the end – and possibly died a martyr’s death because of that faithfulness. This is just conjecture; the biblical record doesn’t give us any of those details. And that’s why I like him. That’s why his story appeals to me so much.
This, of course does not detract from Paul, or James, or John or Barnabas, or Peter in any way. God called these men to specific roles in His grand redemption story, and they faithfully lived out those callings. Paul’s brilliant mind and passionate witness gave us a good majority of the New Testament writings; their devotion of these men and the story they handed down to us in the Holy Writ was by God’s design.
But take note: they were the exception, not the rule. Acts repeatedly speaks of the thousands that came to faith under the teaching and ministry of the apostles, Peter and Paul in particular. Do we know these thousands by name? Do we hear of their ministries and signs and wonders – of their best lives and radical sacrifices? We learn in Acts 2 and 4 that they lived quietly and respectfully among their fellow citizens; they held everything in common; they gave to those in their midst that had need; they gathered together for meals and the apostles’ teaching and the breaking of bread in communion. What about Matthias? What was his ministry like? What was his role? We don’t know, and won’t until Jesus comes back. But that does not make his place in the Kingdom any less important than Paul or Peter or John.
I’m not saying we all need to give our stuff away and join a commune – although, with the economy the way it is, that doesn’t sound too outlandish to me anymore! The point I am making here is that most of these believers – including Matthias – lived quiet, unremarkable, but faithful lives. Their lives were not flashy and dramatic.
Let’s fast forward to today. We too are disciples of Jesus, like our brothers and sisters in the First Century church. And there are those among us who are called to great things for God. God raises up men and women to be powerful witnesses for Him and reach masses with the good news. He calls men and women to sacrifice all to go and tell in other countries, sometimes even sacrificing their lives.
But…and this is HUGE…He does not call all of us in such a way. It could be just me, but when I became a believer and was absorbed into the Evangelical subculture, the subtle message that was given was that we all should be looking to do big things for God. And if we aren’t called to that ministry or this sacrifice, something was wrong with our faith. It was like there were two classes of Christians; first class Christians were those who were called to “full-time” or “vocational” ministry. If you just had a regular 9-5, you were second class. You weren’t spiritual enough. Pursuit of God meant pursuit of that big “thing”, whatever it was.
But maybe it’s just me. I’ve been known to be wrong (a lot! *wink*).
But maybe the vast majority of us are called to be like Matthias. Or any of the other thousands who placed faith in Jesus because of the apostles’ teaching. Maybe it’s not the type of “calling”, but your faithfulness in that calling. Perhaps pursuing God is more about being steadfast in the station of life you happen to be in – as a single man or woman in the work world, or a mom or dad, or astronaut…whatever it may be! Maybe being a disciple of Jesus is being kind and generous to all, even (or maybe especially) those who don’t deserve it. Loving our family (we have the crazy ones…or are the crazy ones – yes, those too), doing our job well, pouring into the lives of those that have been placed in your path day to day.
Until then…grace and peace…