Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection. Acts 1:21-22
Today’s passage, Acts 1:12-26, occurs between two spectacular events: Jesus’ Ascension into heaven and God’s empowering of Jesus’ disciples with his Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. As a result, it’s easy to gloss over this naming of the apostle who replaced Judas.
So let’s review Jesus’ initial designation of his twelve apostles at the beginning of his ministry: “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles” (Luke 6:12-13).
Jesus intentionally chose a specific number of key, apostolic leaders who his Father had revealed to him. Acts 1:12-26 does not explicitly recount any post-Resurrection conversations Jesus presumably would have had with the remaining 11 apostles about replacing Judas, but the scripture references in Peter’s Acts 1 speech suggest otherwise:
“Brothers and sisters, the Scripture HAD to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.” (Acts 1:16-17)
In regard to Judas vacating his appointed post (Acts 1:20-22):
“For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:
“‘May his place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in it,’ (Ps 69:25)
“‘May another take his place of leadership.’ (Ps 109:8)
Therefore IT IS NECESSARY to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these MUST become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
Notice the three imperatives in Peter’s speech. Replacing Judas was absolutely necessary to meet the challenges that would rapidly unfold in just a few days. It’s not hard to imagine discussions between Jesus and his apostles in the interim between his Resurrection and Ascension about the loss of Judas, and how to select another capable, prepared apostolic leader.
Today’s headlines too often reveal similar Church leadership losses through uncontained character flaws. Church leaders also “burn out” or leave for greener pastures. It’s easy to feel ambushed, defeated, and deserted when events like this transpire.
Are you experiencing or have you experienced the loss of a fallen spiritual leader or teammate you once held in respect and honor? Has a spiritual leader or teammate you relied on simply quit or left your fellowship for other opportunities? Remember Hebrews 4:15-16: “For we do not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – If you are in that “in between” time of mourning the loss of such a leader, ask Jesus for grace and mercy not only to identify, but embrace the person(s) he has prepared to replace that leader.
By Kathleen Petersen