Monday, April 29, 2013

Rainy Day Discoveries





The rain was so relentless that I dared not brave walking in it. So it was a 'curl up with Goldfish crackers and good book' kind of day. Even the dogs didn't dare go out in the torrential rain. Lucky ran out briefly, returned a sodden mess, and spent the next hour trotting about the house spreading his special wet-dog scent through every room.

Church had been a little disheartening, to go along with the grey, weepy day. The sermon was as always excellent, and the message of 'Faith not Works' never grows old. However, in our little Sunday school class, there was a brief discussion on the meaning of "apostle" and then someone questioned if the Apostle Matthias was replaced by Paul, and was not really supposed to be an apostle at all. The claim was that the apostles were told to wait for the Holy Spirit, but while waiting, decided on their own to appoint Matthias. The classmate proposed that they had taken matters into their own hands prematurely, and perhaps Matthias was not the legitimate new Apostle.

What?! I named my son after Matthias! I loved the symbolism of Matthias replacing the fallen Judas, and being specially chosen to carry on the apostolic mission. However, the brief discussion in our class intimated that Matthias was chosen by impatient disciples who didn't wait on the Holy Spirit as commanded, and that in fact, Matthias is never mentioned again after the brief passage that explains how he is selected. Really? I had never thought about that....

When I got home I did a word search on Matthias. It is true. He is only mentioned when the other apostles try to discern God's will, and ultimately select him, and then he disappears from notice. That doesn't mean Matthias didn't go on and do wonderful things, does it? The Bible doesn't tell every story!

One classmate made the additional point that unlike the other apostles, Matthias only saw Jesus *after* His resurrection... just like 500 other people. I quietly opened to the book of Acts where Matthias was chosen. No, that classmate was incorrect. Matthias was one of two men considered specifically *because* he had walked with Jesus throughout his earthly ministry. Matthias had been with Jesus the whole time. And the passage describes the other apostles as prayerfully and carefully considering the choice of Matthias, which I always thought seemed to have been directed by God. But...was Matthias chosen, and then forgotten? Had he done nothing of worth, and if so, why wasn't he mentioned again?

There are some ancient historical writings that say Matthias preached the gospel in Ethiopia, others say modern day Georgia, and then was beheaded in 80 AD. If he was beheaded, he was probably preaching Jesus. My own personal experience has been if you talk much about Jesus, some folks don't like you. Beheading for an apostle was likely evidence he was exuberantly doing the Lord's work. (PS- mentioning this is not ALWAYS the best evangelistic technique.)

The Catholics celebrate St. Matthias day, Feb. 24, considering it the luckiest day of the year. Matthias was chosen by "casting lots" (which basically means, drawing straws). As a result, some believe Feb. 24 might be the best day to play the Lottery or bet on a race horse. St. Matthias is considered the patron saint of human frailties, invoked against temptations of the flesh. I suppose since he was chosen through a method considered "gambling", he seemed well suited to oversee the weakness of the flesh. In defense of this method, at that time period, drawing lots when overseen by God and bathed in prayer was considered a useful way of discerning God's will. Unlike gambling, lots were not cast in an attempt for monetary gain, but for discerning God's will.

There is even a Gospel of Matthias, fragments of which were considered Apocrypha, or books that were of religious instruction and historical accounts, but ultimately not considered to be inspired by God. The author of those writings is considered to be Matthias, the Apostle.

So Matthias did do works of God! He was not a deadbeat apostle, and by most accounts, was likely martyred for his witness of Jesus before others. I felt much better after I researched my son's namesake. My own Matthias is so full of promise and such a wonderful son, I would hate to have named him after a nobody.

Content, I listened to the rain fall as I returned to my good book and mug of Goldfish crackers.

Acts 1:20-26 NIV
[20] “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:“ ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it ,’ and,“ ‘May another take his place of leadership .’ [21] Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, [22] beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” [23] So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. [24] Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen [25] to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” [26] Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. …





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