Acts 1:12-26: A Witness of His Resurrection
January 2, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Genesis 3-4, Psalm 2, Matthew 1:18-25, Acts 1:12-26
The next scene is something of a brief interlude before the drama of the coming of the Spirit in the next chapter. Many have wondered over the years: why is this here? What is the point and the purpose of it in Luke’s recording of events? And why did they use “lots” to decide who would be the replacement apostle for Judas?
The story is here to teach us about the nature of apostleship. The criteria that are required for an apostle are clearly specified by Peter. He must be someone who was a witness to the resurrection of Jesus. By its nature, then, apostles in this biblical sense of the word are no longer with us: an apostle is someone who had seen with his own eyes the physical resurrection of Jesus and had been commissioned by God to be a witness to that resurrection of Jesus. (There are other “apostles”—or literally “sent ones”—but not those who were sent by Jesus directly as a witness to his resurrection, but those who are sent out by the church for some wider ministry or missionary role).
The other lesson here is the sovereignty of God. Once the criteria had been made clear, then the early church trusted God to select the person of His choosing through some randomized process. We can be sure that God is sovereignly at work even through events that seem to us to be random.
From this brief interlude, we can learn the following four spiritual lessons:
#1 Trust that God is sovereign in your life even through random or confusing circumstances. The betrayal of Judas and the selection of Matthias were not apparently smooth, orderly, or perfectly organized from a human perspective. But God was sovereignly at work through those events nonetheless. Trust that God is at work through the circumstances of your life even if they do not seem to be perfectly organized from a human perspective.
#2 Take renewed confidence in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and therefore your resurrection if you trust in him. The early church took careful, deliberate, and empirical efforts to ensure that the historical record could attest to the factual resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Christ’s resurrection from the dead physically is no myth. It is a fact of history, and therefore if you trust in him you too will rise again.
#3 Pray constantly. If you feel that you are in something of an “interlude” in your life—a gap between God’s commission and your initiation into that new task—then learn from the example of these early Christians. “They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Can you take a step towards growing your prayer life by not only spending a few moments each day praying, but also developing a pattern of praying about matters as they come up through the day?
#4 Read the Bible. Peter’s leadership, and the actions of all the believers, were formed by a close attention to the Bible and a deliberate following of its teaching and its inner logic. “The Scripture had to be fulfilled.” Would you grow in your practice of God’s Word by not only spending a few moments reading it each day, but asking how God’s Word applies to the particular issues and opportunities that you face? What biblical principles are there to guide your giving (2 Corinthians 9:6), your witness (1 Peter 3:15), your worship (1 Peter 2:9)?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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