First Reading: Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26

God's Call

Have you ever felt "called" to some ministry? Why do you think God called you to this ministry? How successful have you been in your calling?

Popular Translation

15 About that time, a group of one hundred and twenty Christians gather together. Peter stood up among the believers and spoke. 16-17 "Brothers, what the Bible said about Judas has to come true. Jesus chose him for this ministry. He was one of us. But, he led those people to Jesus so they could arrest him. The Holy Spirit has already spoken to us through the words of King David. 20a,c The Psalms tell us, "Let someone else take his place.' 21-22 So, we need someone to join us as a witness to the Lord's resurrection. This should be someone who was with us the entire time, from the point Jesus arrived to the moment he left us. This person should have known Jesus from the early days with John the Baptist to the point God took Jesus from our sight."

23 They brought two men to stand before everyone. The first man was named Joseph, known as Barabbas. His name in Greek was Justus. The other man was called Matthias. 24 They prayed, "Lord, you know people's hearts. Tell us which one of these men you chose 25 to take his place in this ministry as an Apostle. He will replace Judas who left us and went his own way." 26 They drew straws and Matthias won. From that point on, he was counted as one of the Twelve Apostles.

Literal Translation

15 In those days, Peter having stood up in the midst of the brothers spoke. There was a crowd of named (men) in the same (place) as (many as) one hundred and twenty. 16 "Men, (my) brothers, it was necessary for the Scriptures to be filled which the Holy Spirit (was) to speak beforehand through the mouth of David concerning Judas, the (one) having become the guide to the (ones) having taken JESUS together, 17 because he had been numbered among us and he obtained a lot in this ministry.

20a,c For it was written in the Book of Psalms, "...let another take his (office of) overseer.' 21 So, it is necessary (that) the men having accompanied us the entire time in which the LORD JESUS came and went from us, 22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us, to become one of these with us, a witness to HIS resurrection." 23 They stood two men (before everyone), Joseph, the one called Barabbas who was (also) called Justus, and Matthias. 24 Having prayed, they said, "YOU, LORD, knower of the hearts of everyone, signify whom you have chosen from these two (men) one 25 to take (his) place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned away to go to his own place." 26 They gave lots to them and the lot fell on Matthias and he was counted with the eleven Apostles.

1:20c This is from the Septuagint's Greek translation of Psalm 109:8.

1:21-22 This long sentence can be simplified by jumping to the end of 1:22 first. In other words read the verses as: "It was necessary ...(for) one of these (men) to become one of us." The men were qualified as those who were faithful to Jesus from the beginning of his ministry until his Ascension. "One of us" was defined as "a witness to his resurrection." This is an interesting definition for "Apostle."

1:22 "beginning with the baptism of John" could refer to the ministry of John itself or the baptism of Jesus by John.

1:24 "YOU, LORD..." This title was ambiguous. Whom were the men praying to, the Father or Jesus? However, the content of the prayer gives us a clue. Since Jesus chose the Twelve, we can assume they were addressing the Risen Lord.

1:25 "(his) place in this ministry and apostleship" The two nouns "ministry" and "apostleship" could be translated as one: apostolic ministry. Greek grammar can be interpreted in this fashion and, in reality, both were two parts to the same calling.

God always fills holes. If there is a need, God call someone to help fill that need. Not everyone who is called answers God's invitation. Not everyone is called to a particular ministry. Nevertheless, God's call is always personal, always one on one, yet he uses others to extend his call.

There was a hole in the ministry of the Apostles. Jesus chose twelve men, like the twelve tribes of Israel. For Jews, the number twelve had a significance; it meant "fullness, completion." The number twelve was the right number for the Apostles; eleven would have been too few, thirteen too many.

When Judas went his own way and betrayed the Master, he left the company of the Apostles. His absence created a lack that Peter was determined to fill. According to Luke, the Twelve were sent by the Lord to witness to his resurrection. One person had to be added to restore not only the sense of completion to what Jesus established, but to restore fullness to the mission. This person had to be someone who was a follower from the beginning with John the Baptist, and remained faithful through the tough times until the Ascension. In such a position of leadership, this person had to be a reliable source for passing along the Good News. So, an intimate knowledge of the person and ministry of Jesus was essential.

The assembly brought forth two men. Those gathered prayed over the men. Then, they cast lots, the equivalent of drawing straws. Matthias won and took his place among the Apostles.

Some might object to the notion that God revealed his will through a game of chance. Imagine if we drew cards or rolled dice to determine important decisions in our lives. Yet, God can and does act through such chancy actions. When he calls us, he asks us to take a risk, for his sake. Sometimes we need to pray in order to discern his call and the risk his call implies. Many times, his call entails a leap of faith; he wants us to trust him more and more.

God fills holes. He has his ways to fill those holes. He calls each and everyone of us to a particular ministry. His call requires faith as much as it is a response in faith. Let us say "yes" to his call. Let us allow God to use that ministry to build up our faith.

How do you feel God is calling you now? How does he challenge you to trust him with the details of your ministry? How have you grown in your calling?