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Bible Search
Acts #2 (chapter 1:12-26)
The Book of Acts
Replacing Judas
Acts 1:12-26
 
Let's open our Bibles to Acts 1, and I want to be somewhat adventurous tonight and try to cover from verse 12 all the way down to the end of the chapter.  And rather than taking the time to read the entire text, we'll just read it as we make our way through it. 
 
As we noted last week, the Book of Acts is the record of the continuing work and ministry of Jesus on the earth as the apostles preached the gospel and established churches in fulfillment of the Great Commission.  And in reality, had anyone cared to keep writing, they could have continued to chronicle that work right up to this very day and hour. 
 
Verses 12 to 26 contain a very practical issue that the early believers needed to address and that is the replacement of Judas as an apostle.  And I think it is recorded here for a couple of reasons.  First, we get some closure on the life of Judas and why things happened the way they did. 
 
But it is also a reminder that His truth is marching on.  Even with this unthinkable act of treason and betrayal, it was no surprise to God and the cause of Christ continues.  So these remaining followers could draw some encouragement from what peter says here in these verses. 
 
 
 
 
Now last week I pointed out six things that were needed for the work of Christ to continue:  the right message, the right manifestation, the right might, the right mystery, the right mission, and the right motivation.  There is one other thing that was needed and that was  
 
- the Right Men
 
Or more specifically, as we see in our text, the in right man to replace Judas. 
 
versed 12-14
 
There are a couple of things to keep in mind about the apostles.  First, they were handpicked by the Lord Himself.  And second, to be an apostle, you had to be an eyewitness to the resurrection. 
 
So being an apostle was a unique calling from God, and I say "was" because there are no more apostles after the originals, with the exception of Paul.  Anyone today who claims to be an apostle or uses that title has either misunderstood Scripture or ignored it.   
 
So Jesus originally chose 12.  One of them is a traitor, and now he needs to be replaced.  So the final thing that has to happen for the church to be readied for the coming of the Holy Spirit and the ministry really takes off is for this selection to be made.  So notice how it happens. 
 
It begins with
 
 
 
1. The Submission of the Disciples
 
Now just to set the scene a little bit, you remember Jesus had told them not to begin their mission yet.  Even though they are to be witnesses all over the world, they were not to leave Jerusalem yet.  They were to wait on the coming of The Comforter, the Holy Spirit. 
 
In fact, in fact, in Luke 24, as Luke ends his gospel,  Jesus says to them, “Wait in the city of Jerusalem until you are in endued with power from on high" and the Gospel of Luke ends with them returning to Jerusalem with great joy, praising God in the temple and worshipping Jesus. 
 
Verse 13 tells us they go to the upper room where they are staying, very likely the same place they had gathered in fear on resurrection day when Jesus showed up.  And the same place where He showed up again eight days later. Some pretty exciting things have happened in that room. 
 
So once again they are there. Verses 13 and 14 tells us who is there.  It is the eleven apostles as well as some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers. 
 
So what are they doing there?  They were waiting and as they waited, verse 14 tells us  “they all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication."
 
That’s what they were doing.  Or to put it simply, they were doing what they were told to do. They hadn’t always done that, but this time they do. 
They submitted to the Lord.
The second thing we see here is
 
2. The Suicide of a Disciple
 
verses 15-16a
 
"Scripture had to be fulfilled".  Let's stop right there for a moment because this is brand new vernacular for Peter.  He’s never talked like this before.  One of the things I find interesting about studying the book of Acts is that for the first time the disciples are seeing everything from an Old Testament perspective. 
 
They are beginning to realize that they are living in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.  They are physically, literally seeing it happen!  And Peter, in one of the very first recognitions of that, stands up and makes the declaration that they have seen Scripture being fulfilled in, of all things, the suicide of Judas. 
 
And it was right there, all along, in the book of Psalms!  It's just amazing.  He recognizes the nature of inspiration.  It was God Who was speaking through the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David in places like
 
 Psalm 41:9
 
and Psalm 55:12-14
 
How in the world did David know to speak and write about the betrayal of the Lord through someone that was close to Him?  Only because it was God speaking through him! 
And now, here is Peter, centuries later, connecting the dots together as he talks about Scripture being fulfilled in and through the life and actions of Judas!
 
And very quickly, Peter details his life and death.  He worked with us in the ministry, and after his betrayal of the Lord, he bought a piece of land with the money he received that was called the Field of Blood, and wound up dying there and his body burst open. 
 
Apparently it was there that he hung himself.  I personally believe that took place prior to the crucifixion or about the same time and for the three days and nights that Jesus was in the tomb, he hung out there in the hot, middle eastern sun, swelled up like a toad, and either the knot didn't hold, or the rope broke or the branch broke, and he fell and burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 
 
And David wrote about that back in the Psalms and Peter picks up on two prophecies regarding that. 
The first one is Psalm 69:25, predicting that Judas’ place would be vacated; “let his dwelling place be vacated" which it was, and the second prophecy from Psalm 109:8, which said "another would take his office".  
 
Which takes to the final point, which is 
 
3. The Selection of a Disciple
 
verses 21-26
 
Having dispensed with the terrible final end of Judas, Peter then moves to the gap that was created by his suicide and the need to fill the vacancy.
And he makes it a point to remind them the replacement needed to be one of them - someone who was familiar with the ministry of the Lord, beginning with His baptism, and specifically an eyewitness to the resurrection.  But he also had to be chosen by God.
 
So they took into consideration two specific men.  One was named Joseph, called Barsabas”, not to be confused with Barabbas, who was also called Justus, and a man named Matthias.
 
Now we can assume that these two men fit the qualifications put forward by Peter.  Apparently they had been there since the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River all the way to His ascension, and they were witnesses to His resurrection. 
 
And yet, we don’t ever see them on the pages of the gospels. Neither of them are mentioned by name in any of the Gospels. 
 
I find a silent encouragement in that there have always been some followers of Christ who don't make the headlines.  In fact, most of the followers of Christ don't make the headlines.  They aren't known by anybody anywhere, other than God.  They simply go about living their lives in quiet obedience.
 
In fact, I would guess if I had asked you before we read these verses to tell me the name of the Apostle that replaced Judas, most of us wouldn't have been able to do it. 
 
And yet, here these two are as examples of faithful men and women who rise to the occasion when they are needed. 
And the apostles have something of a dilemma because here are two qualified individuals.  Either could have done the job, but only one can be chosen. 
 
And so, they prayed, asking God to reveal His will in the matter.  So how’s He going to do that? 
 
Well, they used the familiar Jewish Old Testament practice  of drawing lots.  Often, that was done by using sticks of different lengths and they determined which stick length would be the winner, then they drew a stick and to whichever one of the nominees the designated length fell was the winner.
 
Except they didn't just prepare and draw the sticks;  
They asked the Lord to providentially control the length of the stick and reveal His will in that way. And we see in verse 26, the lot fell to Matthias.
 
By the way, I find it insightful that Joseph didn’t demand a redraw.  He didn’t leave the group to join somebody else’s group. He didn't start The Greater Jerusalem Fellowship Church of the Short Stick.  He just accepted the choice as being God's will. 
 
So does God really work in that way?  After all, some argue, God's choice as the next apostle was Paul.  He didn't want either one of these guys.  Well how do you know? 
 
After all, God's either controlling the sticks or He isn't.  If he is, then He appointed Matthias.  He could have miraculously made both sticks the same length if he wanted o say "none of the above". 
 
I don't have any problem accepting that God can and did work in this way.  We have occasions in the Old Testament where God demonstrates His will and choice in such a fashion. 
 
In fact, we have this very situation addressed in Proverbs 16:33 where the Bible says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but it’s every decision is from the Lord.”
 
That means there are lots of things in life that appear to be random or the luck of the draw, but God is at work in all of them.  Nothing is random or by chance. 
 
And I accept the fact that God was revealing His will in this very important matter as Matthias, whose name means "gift of the Lord" is selected to complete that apostolate. 
 
And with his selection, everything is in place for the Holy Spirit to come.  Now we’re ready for the big event, and next time we gather, we'll take a look at what happens on the day of Pentecost as the church fulfills the ministry and work of the Lord.
 
Let's pray.
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