21st July 2018

Fame in Obscurity – the 12th Apostle 

“And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.”
Acts 1:26 (NRSV)

That is the one and only reference to the apostle Matthias in the Book of Acts or anywhere else in the New Testament. Why is he there? And is there anything we can learn about our Christian living from him? You’d be surprised.

One hundred and twenty followers of Jesus were gathered together in an upper room after He had ascended to heaven. Their first priority was to appoint someone to replace Judas. It said so in the Psalms. So how were they to go about it? They followed normal management practice.

First, they drew up a list of criteria. The person had to have been a witness of Christ’s resurrection. He also had to have been with them from the very beginning. They narrowed it down to a short-list of two. The remaining apostles did not feel qualified to take the final decision – that had to be God’s responsibility.

So what did they do? There were precedents in the Old Testament for placing decision-making in God’s hands. They were through prayer and casting lots. This the apostles did, and the lot fell upon Matthias. End of story. And that’s the last we hear of him.

Actually it’s not quite the end. The early church fathers tell us a bit about him. There are lots of legends, and from them it appears that his missionary patch was in the Black Sea and Armenia areas. There, in Colchis and Sebastopol, he was tortured, before returning to Jerusalem where he was beheaded.

I think there are three lessons here for us. The first is that he was with Christ from the beginning. Are we? Are we faithfully with Him—in Bible reading, in public worship and in receiving Holy Communion? Next, he showed humility. He didn’t push himself forward and say ‘I’m your man!’ Maybe he didn’t even expect to be chosen until the lot chose him. We should likewise restrain ourselves in humility. And finally, we should be prepared to suffer for the name of Christ.

How amazing that we can learn so much from so little about such an obscure man. Yet that is the way God works.

Dear loving Father, give me the endurance, the humility and the willingness to endure trials for Your Son’s sake. In His name.

Study by Christopher Reeve


About the Author:
Christopher Reeve is assistant pastor of the Invicta (Blean) Congregation near Canterbury, which is part of Grace Communion International/Worldwide Church of God UK, where his wife, Hilary accompanies him.

Local Congregation:
Invicta Fellowship
Blean Village Hall
School Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11.30 a.m.

Local Congregational Contact:
Mrs Annette Woods
Phone: 07473 188326
Email: annettewoods2@nhs.net

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