Read: Acts 1:12-26
Jesus ascended after He taught the disciples. He told them to wait for what we know as Pentecost, the fifty days after Passover, when the Holy Spirit came (we’ll cover that soon). During this time the apostles get together for prayer, to select a replacement for Judas, and to minister to one another. As I reread the passage, I continue to feel the pain that must have been present when the name Judas is mentioned. It’s a sobering thought, maybe not the best way to start the week.
Return to Jerusalem
The apostles do as instructed and return to Jerusalem, just a short walk from where they were gathered. Luke is careful to list the eleven by name and points out the fact that the women, including Mary, are present.
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Luke 1:14
The primary activity is to gather and pray. Luke mentions prayer all throughout his writing. In this case, in particular, Luke lets us know the men and women are together, something not so ordinary in their culture.
Peter begins to assert himself as the leader of the early church. Luke didn’t give us the details of Peter’s reinstatement as we read in John 21:15-19, but it’s obvious by this account that Peter is a changed man.
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) Acts 1:15
Did you read that? Luke tells us there are only about 120 believers from the scores of people who heard Jesus. Thousands were fed, healed, ministered to, and witnessed the events of Jesus and His disciples, but this is quickly reduced to a small number of men and women who become the voice of Jesus that changed the world.
First Sermon — Painful Memories
Peter’s first sermon is one that reminded this small group of believers that the one who betrayed Jesus was foretold and even necessary to fulfill the scriptures. The point wasn’t meant to suggest they were helpless, rather, I think the point is one that emphasizes humility and serves as a reminder for all who are in ministry leadership.
He was one of our number and shared in our ministry. Acts 1:17
The fate of Judas was horrible. His spiritual compromise resulted in his immediate death both physically and spiritually.
Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this Acts 1:19
Talk about a ministry debacle! The talk of the town was about Jesus, crucifixion, and resurrection, but there are always those who won’t let go, who have to point to what seem like failures to elevate themselves. Given the number of believers is so greatly reduced, I have to believe that many stopped short of accepting Christ because they didn’t hear the entire story. Something to consider as we walk in this world as His ambassadors.
They narrowed the choices down to two worthy candidates, then cast lots to reveal who would be the Twelfth.
Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. Acts 1:26
I think they needed to have a twelfth selected to end the dissonance that weighed heavily on their hearts. We know these few were anointed by Jesus himself, soon to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but they’re still human, they still feel the pain of betrayal.
It seems to me they get to move on with ministry by selecting Mattias and moving forward. I’m so thankful for the insight we gain by reading these details.
Ministry is tough at times, but the pain is worth the struggle. Surround everything you do with prayer and listen for God’s answers. In other words, don’t talk non-stop when you’re praying! Take time to reflect.