Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Feast of St. Matthias: A Devotional Commentary

Isaiah 66:1-2 Thus says Yahweh, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: what kind of house will you build to me? and what place shall be my rest? For all these things has my hand made, and so all these things came to be,” says Yahweh: “but to this man will I look, even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word.

Acts 1:15-26 In those days, Peter stood up among the disciples (and the number of names was about one hundred twenty) and said: “Brethren, it was necessary that this Scripture should be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit had spoken beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered with us and received his portion in this ministry. (Now this man obtained a field with the reward for his wickedness, and falling headlong, his body burst open, and all his intestines gushed out. It became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem that in their language that field was called ‘Akeldama,’ that is, ‘The field of blood.’) For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his habitation be made desolate, and let no one dwell in it;’ and, 'Let another take his office of overseer’. Therefore, of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John and to the day that he was taken up from us, of these men, one must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” So, they put forward two candidates: Joseph called Barsabbas who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Matthew 11:25-30 At that time, Jesus exclaimed, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the learned and intelligent, and revealed them to infants! Yes, Father, this was well-pleasing in your sight. All things have been delivered to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and the one to whom the Son desires to reveal him. Come to me, all of you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest! Take my yoke upon you and learn from me because I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Indeed, my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

There were 12 apostles. The number 12 indicated that their purpose was to proclaim the Trinity to the four corners of the earth and baptize the nations into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Peter stood before the 120 which would soon grow in number but at the time were representative of the entire Christian church. The prophecy of David had been fulfilled. There were no longer 12 Apostles but 11.

Judas was a learned and intelligent man. He saw the Messiah and he wanted in. He knew that as a close associate of the Messiah, he would have a good chance of getting a high position in the Messianic kingdom. But over time he came to see that the Messianic kingdom that he had envisioned looked nothing like the Messianic kingdom that Jesus was talking about. Judas wasn't interested in any pie in the sky spiritual nonsense. So Judas decided to cut his losses and betray Jesus. He could at least get some cash for all his wasted time. Judas understood supply and demand. He understood an honest day's pay for an honest day's work. So he traded Jesus in for a field. But then Judas got to thinking. What have I done? What will God do to me for killing this innocent man? Judas believed that God was just and would justly punish him for his sins. So Judas hangs himself. He hopes to escape temporal punishment and he's hoping there isn't really an eternal punishment. Not only does Judas die but his intestines gush out. Judas still had the body and blood of Christ in him from when he partook of the Last Supper. But the body and blood of Christ cause his intestines to gush out.

And so they need another Apostle to replace Judas. The learned and intelligent would appoint a committee. They would try to find someone who is a motivational and dynamic speaker--someone who can really draw a crowd. But the Apostles put no trust in themselves. They choose two people who had known Jesus as long as they had and leave the decision. They trust in Jesus to pick the Apostle through the casting of lots. They know that they were picked by Jesus and only He has the authority to appoint Apostles. And so Matthias is chosen. Very little is said about Matthias before or after this and that's good. Matthias may have been a low-life or the most pious man you would ever meet. What's important is the message that Matthias brought. Matthias proclaimed the Trinity and baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthias preached Christ-crucified. Matthias knew that God was merciful and was not giving him what he deserved. Judas died with the heavy yoke of the law on his neck. He could not bare it. He tried to escape it by killing himself. Matthias knew that he could not carry his yoke. Christ carried Matthias' yoke for him. Christ carries your yoke of sin upon Himself. Matthias found rest. Rest in Christ. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

No comments: