My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 04-22-2021

Luke informs us about the replacement of Judas Iscariot in Acts 1.  A replacement was needed, but only one of two candidates could fill that need.  Lots would be used, but God would make the choice.  Have you ever wondered how those two men approached that election?

We usually think of Jesus touring Palestine with the twelve and a few women.  Some Bible students seldom think of women traveling with thirteen men.  Some think the duties of those women were to cook and wash the utensils afterwards.  Some may venture further and consider them as women who were needed to teach other women and children.  Yet, Luke informs us that it was “necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us” (Acts 1:21-22).  Strange how Bible students can read such passages but not recognize what they have covered. 

The first man’s name was Joseph, called Barsabbas, surnamed Justus.  Joseph is his Hebrew name.  Bar (son of) and Sabbas (Father’s name) identifies his family.   Justus is his Latin or Roman name.  He may have had dual citizenship as did Paul (Saul of Tarsus).   The second man was Matthias.  Little is known about him.  When this need for a replacement was announced, what thoughts went through their thinking as well as the one hundred eighteen others who were present?

The description of Joseph (Justus) seems to set him above Matthias.  Little is known of that disciple’s background.  Today, a man’s family background may be helpful.  It is true that sometimes a person does not live up to his family’s reputation.  Sometimes he exceeds it.  Usually if you know one person better than the other, you choose the one you know.  Joseph’s credentials appear to make him the better choice.  Yet, the one hundred eighteen are not blessed in making that vote.  That choice is left to a higher court (v. 24).  God sees a man’s heart and chose Matthias.  That does not mean Joseph was a poor contender, it just reveals that Matthias’ heart would fit the work better.

Sometimes God’s choice does not incite congratulations from everyone who wanted a different person to fill that void.  If one wanted Joseph rather than Matthias, faults are never hard to find when needed to justify one’s complaint.  Matthias’ heart may have made him God’s choice, but humans do not always agree with God’s perceptions.  Usually, complainers do not voice their disagreements to the one who needs to hear them.  Complainers usually share with those who will listen to their disagreements!  If the listener agrees, they have gained one more in their “many” who agree with their view.  No such sin appeared among the one hundred and eighteen.  Neither did Joseph become a bad loser.

After that choice was made, Luke nor any other inspired writer mentions Joseph or Matthias again.  Joseph is not reported as a bad loser who complains about being “robbed” in how the choice was made.  Joseph takes the loss without complaint.  He does not become a thorn in Matthias’ side.  Did he leave the group hurt deeply because he was not chosen?  Luke does not say.  Perhaps he continued a good work despite the lack of praise.  Sometimes important works are filled by individuals who labor for the Lord without expecting a lot of fanfare.  God is the one who sees their heart.  He is their audience.  However, if you were Joseph, would you have felt you were the one best suited to replace Judas?  That is usually how congregational problems start.  Losers seethe until something blows up.  Not so with Joseph.  That is why he was so great!