Thursday – Pentecost 11

Judges 4:4-23
Acts 1:15-26
Matthew 27:55-66

The acts reading is the account of the filling of Judas’ slot as an apostle. There are two fascinating parts to this passage. The first is the disciples use of the old testament. Both ‘it is written’ phrases are from the book of psalms. The second one is Psalm 109 the first is Psalm 69. Neither of which are in the LSB Hymnal by the way. Psalm 109 is what is known as an imprecatory psalm. That 2 dollar word means it says or wishes bad things on someone else. The eastern orthodox have a tradition of reading the psalms as the Son’s words to the Father. They see them as prophetic in that way. It would seem that tradition might stem or go right back to the Apostles. Reading Psalm 109 in that way casts an intersting and possibly troubling light.

The second comment is about the call to ministerial office and how the apostles handled it. Reading the text, they defined the parameters of an apostle – been with us since John’s baptism of Jesus up to today. There might have been more than two, but they put forward two who met that criteria. Then they cast lots. And Matthias, the man who the lot fell on, is never mentioned again. Even the early church writers don’t know much about him. Some try to link him to characters like Zacchaeus or Barnabus. What does happen in Luke’s Acts is that Paul, a Zealous Jew who persecutes the church and never saw the non-resurrected Jesus, has the original Damascus road experience and claims a direct sending, an apostleship, from the Lord Jesus. What does any of that have to do with our experience today? It would seem that nice and logical as the disciple’s criteria were, the office of apostle requires a direct follow me from Christ. Second this selecting of the 12th apostle was done prior to pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the Person who calls, gathers, enlightens and sactifies the church. Cart before the horse. Directly tying those together, the church does not have apostles today. Christ might call another one, but Revelation only gives twelve thrones and twelve gates. What the chruch has is bishops, pastors or teachers. These offices are a mixture of the human and divine. The requirements are set by humans in the church and change from age to age with a baseline of character from 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The church then relies on the Holy Spirit to guide the selection. Sounds a lot like what the disciples were doing. Not bad, just a confusion of time and office.

May the Lord bless goings and comings today.

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