Summary: St. Luke shares with us how the Early Church found God's Will in receiving Matthias as the new 12th Apostle. 1. It is Possible to Find God's Will 2. God' Word is Essential 3. Prayer is Essential
Title: "The Vote Is In!" - Finding God's Will
St. Luke shares with us how the Early Church found God's Will in receiving Matthias as the new 12th Apostle.
1. It is Possible to Find God's Will 2. God' Word is Essential 3. Prayer is Essential
Grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son Jesus Christ who came to take away the sin of the world!
It has happened again. Another major leader in the Church of Jesus is gone. This time it was because of alleged impropriety towards the opposite sex. The other time it was because of a financial scandal. The time before that it was because of an unexpected death. And the time before that it was merely because it was time for the person to enjoy some well deserved time of retirement.
But whether it was through impropriety, financial scandal, unexpected death or retirement the fact remains the same – there is a vacancy that needs to be filled. Someone needs to step and take the position so that the cause of Christ can continue. It is time for next man/woman up.
That is where we find ourselves in the first chapter of the book of Acts. Jesus has spent the last 40 days with his disciples ( the 120 ) teaching them and showing them what it means to live the Resurrected Life. He has been teaching them how that His mission was one that He and the Father had planned since the beginning of time. He has been teaching His followers how they should understand the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings in light of His death and resurrection.
Now, it was time for Jesus to ascend and be with His Heavenly Father. It was time for Jesus to take up his rightful place on the right hand of the Father and begin the final countdown of sending His Holy Spirit to lead the Early Church. It was time for the disciples to go to Jerusalem to wait for the Outpouring and Empowerment of His Holy Spirit.
It was during this period of waiting that our passage comes into play. The 120 are in that ten day waiting period between the time of the Ascension and the Day of Pentecost. They have gathered together to pray, to seek God’s will, to surrender themselves openly and fully to the LORD. They have gathered to be empowered by the Holy Spirit so that they can go out and fulfill the Great Commission:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18b – 20 NRSV).
As they gather together they know that they are one Apostle down. No longer are there 12 main voices to lead the group. They have lost a dear and close friend or at least one who they thought was a dear and close friend. They have lost a man that walked with them, ministered alongside them and one whom they thought would be one of the 12 great leaders of the New Age of Jesus.
It may be difficult for us to understand how devastated the other disciples were to discover that Judas had killed himself following the betrayal. They had all betrayed Jesus. None of them had risked their lives or their reputations to stand with Jesus during his trial or volunteered to take his place on the Cross. They had all in their one way or the other betrayed the Lord Jesus.
But none of them had suffered the fate that Judas had suffered. None of them had been driven to such despair/confusion/depression that they had ended their own life. We may never know all the ends and outs of why Judas did what he did or why he ended his own life prematurely. And, even if we knew all the answers it would not change the fact that the 12 were down one major leader.
How could they help bring about the restoration of Israel without fulfilling the traditional complement of 12 known leaders? Everyone knew that Moses had needed 12 leaders. Any restoration of Israel would be seen as incomplete without 12 leaders. But who should take the place of Judas? Who should step up and assume his role? Who should be called into the office of Apostle?
Our passage this morning, is more than a simple election passage. It is more than a historical account of what happened during that 10 day period between Christ’s Ascension and the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. It is a passage that leads us to knowing and understanding God’s Will. It is a passage that reveals to us some of the key ways that today we can know God’s Will in our lives and in the life of our churches and communities.