Jesus has ascended and the disciples and company have been encouraged not to stand around staring so they return to Jerusalem. I imagine it was an exciting mile’s walk as they talked about all they had seen and what they would do next.
When they return to their “upper room” – it’s
• Peter and John
• James and Andrew
• Philip and Thomas
• Bartholomew and Matthew
• James (the son of Alphaeus) and Simon (the Zealot)
• Judas (the son of James) and __________________
Luke counts them off in pairs leaving the last name – Judas son of James with no partner. It emphasizes there is an empty slot – something or someone is missing. (I love this idea of having a spiritual partner. I’m all for the buddy system.)
Along with the eleven there are Jesus’ family and “the women”. (Each time they are mentioned somewhere it makes me curious about them. That’s a study for another day.)
They were all “with one accord” devoting themselves to prayer. (I think it is remarkable we don’t hear much about the disciples praying – they mostly fell asleep in the garden. Now they have a directive – wait for the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem – and I’m sure Jesus has reminded them prayer is the way to remain connected to Him. “Watch and pray” is not just a cliché when you are waiting for something from God. In fact the idea of waiting is not twiddling one’s thumbs – waiting is expectant. There is development going on, there is processing, there is change and growth. Prayer is the work of preparation.)
So, of course it’s Peter who stands up and tells the 120 that they need to fill the slot vacated by Judas, the traitor. What’s amazing to me is his recognizing a prophecy needing to be fulfilled. He connected the dots between Psalms, (Psalms 69 and 109 to be exact) and the fact the team is one short. (We just don’t appreciate the exposure and dedication these Jewish “fishermen” had to the Scriptures. In both Psalms, David is speaking to God about those who have betrayed him. I should be so well educated!)
Of course you can’t discount the fact that they have all been praying together “in one accord” and that singleness of focus has united their hearts. (People, I have seen this happen and it is an amazing thing. Prayer, with no agenda except to wait on the Lord, unites people – even those who would never be anywhere near the same page otherwise! For some reason we never expect unity is possible so we make all kinds of rules about who should make the final decision when a group can’t decide. We should really reexamine this thinking in every relationship situation.)
Having come to a unified heart, it probably doesn’t matter much how you approach the selection process – names out of a hat or casting lots – God has done the heavy lifting of bringing about unity. Then it’s easy just to let Him show you the answer. Matthias, it is.
God is interested in unity among His own.
Prayer is the work of preparation.
About the World?
Unity amid diversity is a powerful witness to God’s presence.