Let us pray: Dear Savior, today as we bask in the afterglow of Your ascension, cause our joy and serenity to be put into action, just like the original disciples. Move us to make use of this time to prepare for a more Godly future in which we can busily labor for Your kingdom without getting bogged down. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR RISEN AND ASCENDED LORD!
TEXT: Acts 1: 12-26
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
If you’ve ever been in the military you’re well aware of that phrase: “Hurry up and wait.” It also applies to doctor’s visits, car repair appointments, and anything to do with governmental agencies. How much time is totally wasted when we become trapped by the “hurry up and wait” mentality?
After Christ ascended into heaven the disciples were told to go to Jerusalem and await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which occurred on Pentecost, 10 days later. But, they didn’t succumb to: “hurry up and wait.” Instead they immediately got busy with very important work. Our text relates some of that work to us and we can learn much from it as we chaff against the boredom and lethargy of modern life.
Soon after arriving back in Jerusalem after Christ’s ascension, impetuous Peter took stock of their situation. He and the remaining 10 disciples “all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” When you’re forced to spend time waiting on the Lord, prayer is an excellent option! It sharpens your thoughts. It hones your decision-making ability. And through it things begin to crystallize in your mind. You’re given a singularity of purpose, aren’t you? And such prayer, done jointly with others, as we see here; well, that’s a glorious image of God’s Church coming together and getting stronger in their joint resolve.—So, Sunday morning prayer, small group prayers, prayers at meetings and the like—they are all powerful weapons of spiritual warfare. They didn’t overlook or neglect them and neither should we.
Peter gets up during one of these prayer meetings (which numbered up to 120 souls at the time) and talked about Judas’ betrayal of our Lord and his subsequent death by suicide. Obviously this was a sore spot for all of them. To have one of their own, a trusted member of the 12, sell Christ out for 30 pieces of silver was a huge blow. To have him then kill himself by hanging, having the rope break and his body become impaled on the rocks below the city wall, well, it was gruesome. But then Peter went on to do something about the situation. He quotes from Psalm 109 which said: “May another take his place of leadership.” So, they then agreed to add another new member to that inner circle we know as “the 12 disciples.”
Why is this important to us today? Simply this: right here we have the first call meeting ever held in the Church. And it provides Godly outlines as to how we also go about picking Pastors in God’s flock to this very day.
Earlier this past week, our synod held our Seminary graduation day. This year we had 2 young men who graduated and also received their first formal call into the public ministry of Christ. The service of preaching the Gospel, administering the Sacraments, and feeding and caring for God’s sheep in our synod. Understand that the original 12 had all received “calls” into the ministry, too. They were chosen for that office by Christ Himself. We call this a “direct” call in that Jesus used no intermediary to do this. He did it Himself.
But here we have the first indirect call such as our seminary students received this past week. That is, God’s people after prayer and cogitation jointly agreed on one person to fill the office under consideration. In this, such calls are derived, they get their power and blessing from the saints in need who are given such authority from Christ Himself. Peter sums it up quite well: “Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us (Ascension). For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
The whole point of Christ’s public ministry was to save souls eternally. So our witness today must be to preach and teach the centrality of such salvation: the cross and the empty tomb. More on these qualifications is outlined by St. Paul in his Pastoral Epistles. But basically, God wants humble, knowledgeable, pious men who truly believe that God’s Son suffered for our sins, died to make us right with God, and rose again from the grave to prove that Satan’s power is now crushed. He wants men who are not “fly-by-nights” to the faith and who have some gravitas when it comes to Christianity. Men whose faith has stood up against persecution and oppression.
“So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.” Out of various men who seemed to fit the bill, these two stood out. This was the congregation’s “call list.” Then they prayed for God’s guidance. They invoked the power of the Spirit to lead them wisely. “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen, to take over the apostolic ministry which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Obviously, they realized that although they were the earthly instruments of this choosing, God Almighty was behind it all. He always is. So, they then drew lots and the lot fell on Matthias, “so he was added to the eleven apostles.”
Was this a colored stone? Was it the short straw? We don’t know. But what we do know is that like our modern day method of majority vote, God was behind the outcome.
If you knew that the Lord wanted you to wait for Him to send some sort of spectacular sign to you, just how busy would you be in the interim? The “hurry up and wait” mentality usually breeds laziness on our part. But not with these 120 followers! They hurried up and stayed busy! And it’s a good thing because when Pentecost arrived they were ready to hit the ground running.
One of my professors once said that “in the church things move slowly.” That’s true. We’re not into knee-jerk reactions that we later come to regret. However, daily prayer and meditation, along with regular interaction among fellow believers may appear slow, but in reality they all set the stage for instant action when the Lord reveals His timetable. Yes, when the Lord opens a door we must be constantly ready to leap through it. Are you? Amen