ACTS 1:12-26 = REPLACING JUDAS
Bible Background: We’ve covered a number of stories in Acts. Now the lectionary sends us back to chapter 1, to get us ready for the Pentecost story-which happens next week! This scene takes place immediately after Jesus’ final instructions to the disciples, and his ascension into heaven. Replacing Judas with a 12th apostle, is the first thing on their agenda.
Digging Deeper: 1. Jesus has just instructed the 11 disciples to “wait in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (which we expect will be the Holy Spirit.) The disciples gather, they wait, they pray, then they decide they have to replace Judas. Having 12 in leadership seems to be very important-think of how important the ’12 tribes of Israel’ were in their thinking. However, Jesus has not told them to replace Judas. Hmmm!
2. Peter takes the lead (he has been shown to do that in the Gospels). He asks the group to choose one who has been a witness to Jesus since the Baptism of John up to the resurrection. The larger group (120 people) nominates two. They pray for God to choose the one God wants. They use a game of chance (basically a role of the dice) to see who that is. Matthias is the one! Once more, there are 12…though, strangely, we never hear about Matthias again!
3. This story could make us wonder: “Was Peter acting on his own, when the group was supposed to be waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?” “Did God want there to be a 12th apostle, or was this something the early Christians decided they needed?” In some ways, the Apostle Paul, whom we meet in chapter 7, will become the real 12th or 13th apostle, and the most influential one!
4. A high note in this story is that the group of 120 includes women and men; Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers. Once again, we see that women are in on the ‘ground floor’ of this Jesus Movement, even if they didn’t have quite the same status as the male disciples.
5. This story might help us ponder some questions for ourselves and for being church: +How do we choose leaders? Does God prefer one over the other? How would we know? +When is it time to act? And when would it be good to wait on the Holy Spirit? +What about those choices we do make, which we cannot know for sure if we chose well or not?
Readings for next week: Acts 2:1-21, Romans 8:22-27, John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15