Tuesday of Easter VII – Acts 1:12-26

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

“‘May his camp become desolate,
    and let there be no one to dwell in it’;

and

“‘Let another take his office.’

A picture containing text, sign, wooden, wood

Description automatically generated21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

On the communion rail at St Michael’s, the parish in which I serve, are twelve wooden carvings, one for each of the apostles. I have included a picture of the one for Peter. It has keys. It reminds us of the day that the Lord Jesus spoke to him about the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 16:19). On the far end of the rail, after all the plaques for John, James, Andrew, and the rest, is the twelfth plaque. It is blank. I have included the picture for that one too. 

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Description automatically generatedIs it Judas? Its blank face could be just what Peter means in this passage when he says that Judas’ camp is desolate, and he must be replaced. He also was at the Last Supper. Jesus speaks of the one dipping his hand into the dish with him who will betray him (Mt. 26:23). Does this plaque speak a warning to us as well as we would kneel at this rail? We too might betray the Lord of life.

Or is it Matthias whom the disciples chose to replace him. It appears that he too might have been a witness of this meal. But we know so little of poor Matthias. He is an enigma, unmentioned until this time. He is never mentioned again in the Scripture. The non-scriptural traditions about him conflict wildly. Some say he died in modern Turkey. Others suggest he died in Jerusalem, either of old age or at the hands of a mob. Or is this plaque blank because it awaits your imprint? Is it you? Peter says that there needs to be twelve witnesses to the resurrection.  Is there always room for a twelfth, someone who has experienced the risen Christ and has a story a tell? Yes, there is a place for you to do that. The same Holy Spirit who was poured out upon the disciples on the first Pentecost was poured out on you in your baptism so you may bear witness to the one whom you have touched, tasted, heard, and seen.

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