“For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead be made desolate, and let no one dwell in it’; and, ‘Let another man take his office.’ Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us – beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us – one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.’ So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’ And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:20-26).
Peter raised the issue of finding the man the Lord had chosen to replace Judas in the apostolic ministry of The Twelve. The qualifications were two: 1) He had accompanied Jesus since John had baptized Him. 2) He had witnessed Jesus’ teachings and miracles and resurrection. The role was singular: He would actively testify to the resurrection of Jesus along with the rest of the apostles.
The church agreed upon two men who fit the essential description of an apostle and were qualified to hold the office: Joseph, who was called Barsabbas, or Justus, and Matthias. All we know of these two is what we read in this text.
After praying, the church cast lots, that is, they put the two men’s names into a pot or jar and shook it until one name popped out. This time, “the lot fell to Matthias.” His name literally fell out of the pot first. The church accepted that Matthias was the man of God’s choosing.
Neither Matthias nor Joseph is mentioned again, which raises the question: Why bother filling the position with someone who wouldn’t become as well-known as the rest of the apostles? What was the point of replacing Judas in the first place? Peter had already established that the Scripture had to be fulfilled. So, replacing Judas was requisite. But why Matthias? As far as we know, he performed no miracles, he wrote no Scripture, he planted no churches. Yet, he was part of the principal apostolic team. Why not Joseph? Was he deficient in some way? Had he failed in some measure? There’s no evidence that there was a problem with Joseph, but the lot fell to Matthias.
Because God is sovereign, He has every right to choose whom He will for His good pleasure. Because God is holy, His choices are always, good, right, and just. Therefore, we need look no further than God’s holiness and sovereignty to know why He choose Matthias. God said it and that settles it.
What’s important to us is that God does make choices. When His choices don’t make sense to us, it reveals our lack of understanding, rather than some injustice or foolishness on God’s part. God has every right to choose the people He desires to fill His purpose. Faith helps us navigate His dark providences that challenge our understanding. Because we know God to be infinitely good, we trust Him when we can’t see Him or comprehend His leading. Loving Him, we walk by faith through the mysteries of His providence, confident in His governance.
Instead of railing and roiling over God’s providences that we don’t grasp, we need to remember that God’s goodness and wisdom far exceeds our own. So, we can rest in His provisions and guidance even in the midst of our perplexity and puzzlement.
The real question we should always ask, especially when we fail to understand is, “How are we going to glorify God in this situation?” If we’ll seek God’s glory above everything else, we’ll arrive in good hands.