Jesus ascends up into heaven before the disciples eyes, they stand amazed looking up into the heavens and have two angels address them saying; “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
These are momentous days! The early prototype church has watched Jesus ascend into heaven, they devoted themselves (men and women) to corporate prayer seeking God’s wisdom (vs14), they’ve had one of the original 12 exposed as the betrayer of Jesus and then everyone became aware of how he died in the field he obtained with the ‘reward of his wickedness’ (vs 18).
The prototype church need leadership. You can almost hear the questions; ‘What should we do now?’, ‘Jesus has left…and told us to wait’, news of Judas’ death was probably raising questions within the prototype community of faith concerning who they should replace him with…?
Peter stands up and points them back to the OT Scriptures (Psalms 69 & 109) seeking to explain what’s just happened with Judas. Seeking to help them to discern God’s will now and then Peter leads them off the back of those Scriptures and makes a suggestion that they should seek a man who has been a witness of Jesus’ to replace Judas (vs21-22).
The congregation of 120 disciples agree with Peter’s leadership proposal and they put forward two men who satisfied the requirements Peter had proposed (wonderful example of leadership, collaboration and followership).
Then wonderfully the church prays (vs24-25) that God would show them who He has chosen to replace Judas as one of the 12 apostles;
“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.”
Yes – to devotion to prayer
Yes – to dedication to Scripture for guidance for life
Yes – to leadership, collaboration & followership
Yes – to corporate faith-filled prayer and the desire for God to reveal His will
And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles (vs26)
They prayed and then cast lots, rolled the dice as it were! This was an accepted practice in the Old Testament (see Proverbs 16:33, Leviticus 16:8 & Numbers 26:55) and they had prayed and asked God to show them His will, and God can control the outcome of a cast lot – but seriously!
This is never repeated in the NT as a method for leadership appointment or decision making so what can we make from this?
After all they have done that is a great example for us to follow, throwing lots was actually the best they could do in the absence of Jesus and prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! The Helper who was still to come, who is clearly involved in leadership appointments and deployment later in Acts 13:2 & Acts 20:28?
Dr Luke’s account of the early church has only just began but we are off to a rollicking start! What an example they are for us. Prayer, preaching, leadership saturated with God’s word, followership, more prayer and a desire to be lead by God… May we be like them individually and corporately!
And may we who have the help of the Holy Spirit, ask Him, be lead by Him and obey His leading in our everyday lives and churches!