If you’re keeping track, this is the seventh Sunday of Easter. Hard to remember Easter. It’s the Sunday that wasn’t, as far as an Easter service is concerned.
Next week is Pentecost and then the Church begins counting the Sundays after Pentecost taking us all the way into September. Some indications are that we may not be gathering for worship again until September, and that’s a disappointment.
Which brings me to the subject of my reflection for this Sunday.
The final event recorded in Acts chapter 1, before we get to Pentecost in chapter 2, has the eleven remaining Apostles dealing with the issue that Jesus had chosen 12 of them and with the death of Judas, there was desire to replace him and get the number back to twelve.
We might wonder about the importance of twelve. Jesus may have been making a connection with the nation of Israel, the people to whom he first came. Jacob had 12 sons and these eventually made up the 12 tribes of Israel and so the remaining disciples may have believed that there was a need to return the number of Apostles to the original 12.
We read in Acts 1: 12-26 that there were 120 followers of Jesus still meeting in a room in Jerusalem when the issue of choosing a replacement is first broached by Peter. (Interesting to note that 120 is 10 times 12, which may also have been a number significant to them.)
The decision is to nominate two who are recognized as having been followers of Jesus from the beginning. Interesting to note again that although Jesus had an intimate relationship as teacher with the “twelve” we refer to as his disciples, there was actually a much larger contingent of both men and women who followed him from the beginning of His ministry. These we can properly refer to as Jesus disciples as we can for the millions of followers from His resurrection until today. If we count ourselves as followers of Jesus, we are numbered among His disciples.
The Apostles however, were the 12 distinct men that Jesus chose to work with and to imbed His teaching so that they might continue His work following His ascension.
So, the trivial pursuit question is, “How many Apostles were there?’ You know the answer if you have been listening when I have played with this before. You would logically say 12 and I would say no, there were 13 if you count Matthias, and then I would confuse you further by saying that there were actually 14. In Paul’s letter’s he claimed Apostleship because of the intimate relationship he claims to have had with Jesus even though Jesus had already ascended into heaven.
How many disciples were there? The correct answer for the win and the jackpot is probably fourteen.
But I digress.
Two are chosen, Matthias and Barsabbas. They pray for guidance, cast lots, which may be another means of saying they had a private ballot vote, and Matthias was chosen and Barsabbas was not.
So, the question implicit in this reflection is how did Barsabbas handle the disappointment of not being chosen, not being the first choice of his other friends?
With that, how do we handle disappointment, especially the disappointment that
Covid-19 has brought into our lives, and there’s lots of it.
I mentioned the Easter Sunday that wasn’t. Of all the services to have to cancel, Easter is the celebration that marks the Christian Church. It’s the grand celebration, even more important than Christmas. And we missed it, because we had to.
I’m often asked when we can expect to get back to church. I have no idea and there’s a great disappointment in having to admit that. On a family note, Pam and I have two wonderful granddaughters in Niagara and the best we can do is Facetime, which is a blessing in itself, but it can’t compare with seeing them and hugging them.
I won’t create a great list. I’m sure you can fill in the issues that are bringing disappointment to you and your family and friends.
Back to the question of how Barsabbas handled his disappointment. First off, it’s interesting to note that Matthias is not mentioned again in scripture. Then again, neither are most of the Apostles once we get past the Gospels. What happened to the second name on the ballot, the loser? Well he shows up again, later in the Book of Acts when the church in Jerusalem decides to send a couple men to accompany Paul on a trip back to Antioch to bring words of encouragement to that congregation. They choose Silas and Barsabbas and describe them as leaders in the church.
Barsabbas obviously got over his disappointment and continued leading the Jerusalem congregation. What a great example for us. It’s easy to want to throw our hands in the air and give up or as some are advising, to just get back to life as we knew it. Cronid-19,
Let’s pretend it hasn’t happened.
I’m sure Barsabbas had opportunity to sit with his grandkids and share with them that he was almost chosen as Apostle number 13, but it didn’t matter to him. He was dedicated to Jesus and was willing to carry on and do whatever God had in store for him.
He’s a great example, although unrecognized by many of us, as a man who dealt with his disappointment and continued serving his Lord.