Acts 1:23-26 – So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.’ Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

 

What looks like a random election of a twelfth apostle – one to replace Judas – is in fact a highly spiritual event. For sure, we tend not to cast lots these days. Beyond Pentecost, we have the guidance of the Spirit. But even here, in this most important matter of completing the leadership circle of the apostles, the casting of lots is all about allowing the Lord to determine the outcome. We nominate; the Lord discriminates. We vote; the Lord chooses. And the basis of his choice, as the Lord reminded the prophet Samuel (1 Sam 16:7) is not outward appearance but the heart. Which is not to say that Barsabbas was corrupt, any more than it is to say Matthias was perfect. We have seen enough already to know that this apostolic band is a bit rag-tag, to say the least. It is limping its way into chapter 2. But it is to say that Christian leadership is not a career but a calling, and dependent on character not personality. Anything less is disastrous for the church.

 

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.