“So then, someone must join us as a witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He must be one of the men who were in our group during the whole time that the Lord Jesus traveled about with us, beginning from the time John preached his message of baptism until the day Jesus was taken up from us to heaven. So they proposed two men: Joseph, who was called Barsabbas, and Matthias. Then they prayed, ‘Lord, you know the thoughts of everyone, so show us which of these two you have chosen to serve as an apostle in the place of Judas, who left to go to the place where he belongs’…and the one chosen was Matthias, who was added to the group of eleven apostles.” Acts 1:21-26 TEV
One of my favorite Apostles is Matthias. Now most Christians (and I suspect even a few preachers) would say, “Who?” And that would be understandable, since very little is known about Matthias. In fact, so little is known about him, that Bible scholars disagree about the way he died and where he was buried. Based on his near anonymity, it is fair to question my choice of Matthias. Maybe, when you understand my reasoning, you too will rank him among your favorites as well.
Acts Chapter One records the first official decision made by the disciples after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven. After a time of prayer, Peter recalled that the ancient Psalms foretold of Judas’ betrayal and death. Peter reminded the assembly that according to the Psalms, it was their duty to replace Judas with a twelfth Apostle.
After careful deliberation, it was decided that a suitable replacement must meet one irrefutable qualification: he had to be an eyewitness to the entirety of Jesus’ ministry. In other words, like the other eleven Apostles, the replacement needed to have experienced the ministry of Jesus, from the time of John’s baptism, until their current day. Now I may be taking some literary license here, but I interpret this passage to imply that Matthias was originally a disciple of John, and was one of the many who started following Jesus after John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. So what’s so significant about this? It means that Matthias is the only Apostle selected because of his leadership.
The other twelve disciples had to grow into their Apostleship through trial and error. They learned to lead after they were promoted. The Scriptures reveal that they made many mistakes along the way. Matthias, well, he achieved his position the hard way. He earned it…by being faithful over a long period. This is especially powerful when you realized that he had no idea that this unique honor was waiting for him down the road.
Imagine the disappointment if Matthias had left the team prior to that amazing day. How sad if Peter called his name, and another disciple announced that Matthias was no longer counted among the faithful. Quite the contrary…Matthias remained faithful. And he wasn’t just present; he served with distinction. The Bible says that there were approximately 120 believers in attendance that day, but Matthias stood out in the crowd. Not because he thought “One day, I too will be an Apostle.” No, that thought wasn’t even on his radar. Matthias led with excellence because he had a servant’s heart. He wanted to serve Jesus, and God greatly honored and rewarded his leadership.
“I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11 TEV
None of us knows the full plan God has for us. We are unaware of the honor and promotion waiting down the road. Sadly, too many Christians never realize their potential because they don’t remain faithful. Some get offended. Some grow weary in well-doing. Some decide they are “never going to reach their dreams.” So they stop trying. With Matthias as our example, choose to remain faithful. Then, watch and see the great things God has in store for His servant leaders.