Remember “roll call” at school? Sometimes I would tell my students, “raise your hand if you are not here, that will be quicker”. I loved the reaction the first time I would use those words just to get their attention. They would turn to look at each other, not knowing quite what to do until the jokester in the room “got it” and would raise his/her hand. It was a good laugh before getting down to the business of the day. Roll call is a necessary but not favored activity by teachers because our minds were geared to the lessons for the day, not roll call. And sometimes I would forget and need to be reminded to turn in the “count”. Yes, I was that teacher.
Dr Luke, the inspired by God writer of Acts, takes “roll call” of the committed. Good way to begin. The disciples and other followers have watched Jesus ascend back to heaven with the command, “Go and make disciples…” The mission has been spelled out in detail by the gospel writer Matthew. Read Matthew 28.
God sent Jesus. Jesus now sends out his followers lead by the Disciples, though not all of them. Luke points out Judas’ crime of betrayal once more and the disciples decide to replace him. Let’s see what happens next in the “acts” of the disciples, led by God.
ACTS—God’s Acts through the Disciples
Acts 1:12-26, The Message
Returning to Jerusalem
12-13 So they left the mountain called Olives and returned to Jerusalem. It was a little over half a mile. They went to the upper room they had been using as a meeting place:
James, son of Alphaeus,
Simon the Zealot,
Judas, son of James.
14 They agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer, the women included. Also, Jesus’ mother, Mary, and his brothers.
15-17 During this time, Peter stood up in the company—there were about 120 of them in the room at the time—and said, “Friends, long ago the Holy Spirit spoke through David regarding Judas, who became the guide to those who arrested Jesus. That Scripture had to be fulfilled, and now has been. Judas was one of us and had his assigned place in this ministry.
18-20 “As you know, he took the evil bribe money and bought a small farm. There he came to a bad end, rupturing his belly and spilling his guts. Everybody in Jerusalem knows this by now; they call the place Murder Meadow. It’s exactly what we find written in the Psalms:
Let his farm become haunted
So no one can ever live there.
“And also what was written later:
Let someone else take over his post.
21-22 “Judas must now be replaced. The replacement must come from the company of men who stayed together with us from the time Jesus was baptized by John up to the day of his ascension, designated along with us as a witness to his resurrection.”
23-26 They nominated two: Joseph Barsabbas, nicknamed Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, O God, know every one of us inside and out. Make plain which of these two men you choose to take the place in this ministry and leadership that Judas threw away in order to go his own way.” They then drew straws. Matthias won and was counted in with the eleven apostles.
THE “ACTS” –
- Roll Call. The Eleven, the women who followed Jesus along with Mary, his mother AND his brothers were accounted for by Luke. Note: Jesus’ brothers were known not to have believed in Jesus before the cross, but now they are all in. There were also 120 others who followed and witnessed Jesus’ commandments and ascension on the mountain. Roll call complete.
- Prayer. “They were completely together in prayer.” There is no greater work than to be unified with God in prayer.
- The Word. Guided by scripture and God’s Holy Spirit, Peter (“the rock upon whom I will build my church” said Jesus to Peter) stands up to fulfill scripture. Judas must be replaced.
- The Holy Spirit. Guided by God’s Spirit an unbiased plan was put in place with character and belief qualifications for the one to be chosen. Then they prayed for God’s intervention. Matthias was chosen to join the Eleven as one of them.
- The Church. The church of about 120 was formed with Twelve Apostles called by Jesus, ordained by God, to lead the group.
We will see and hear even more in subsequent chapters of God’s story of His church in the “acts” of God through His disciples. We see clearly that the early church foundation was built on believing in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus who is our Savior and Lord, our hope for eternity!
God’s “acts” are going to get even more exciting…Stay tuned!
I believe. I believe that You, Father God, sent Jesus, Your Son, to save me and the rest of the world from our sin. Because of your love, You take away our sin, make us whole, protect us under your wings of safety and provide for our needs. You love us unconditionally, knowing we are not perfect, and provide perfect forgiveness.
Your “acts” in my life bring me closer to you. Your “acts” guide my behavior, challenge my mind to grow and mature, and allow my heart to swell with your love that is beyond my small ability to love. Yes, Your “acts” are amazing! Your love, mercy and grace are amazing. YOU are amazing. I’m overwhelmed just now with all you have done, are doing and will do in my life. Help me to love like you love, tell your story for your glory in detail, and behave in ways that please you today.
In Jesus Name, Amen