The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
In Acts 1:15-26 the apostles have returned to Jerusalem at the directions from Jesus and from an angel. They are waiting for what the Lord would do with them. During this time, which was likely filled with a good bit of worship, prayer, and considering the things taught them over the years by Jesus, Peter does something bold. There’s an apostle missing. The Old Testament often uses the number 12, but rarely 11. Jesus chose 12 apostles. The number should be filled up again.
Peter does something which we don’t find record of the apostles doing ever before. He takes a passage of Scripture and applies it to an idea. It’s bold. Once Peter has established the idea that there ought to be twelve apostles and that the one who is missing needs to be replaced, the apostles set themselves to the challenge. Who is the right one to select?
They settle on some criteria, which are not clearly explained in the Old Testament. They identify two candidates. Then they cast lots to determine who would be selected. This random step in the selection process makes a good deal of sense. It emphasizes that the choice, not actually random, belongs to the Lord who is able to make anything happen as he pleases. The candidates were equally qualified according to the criteria identified. Selection of the new apostle was not a matter of popularity or debate. It was a matter of divine acceptance.
Christ’s Church works differently from other institutions. It is in the body of Christ that we self-consciously avoid using our own wisdom to appoint leaders. Rather, trust that the Lord will raise up people who are well qalified. Those people are normally recognized from a body, rather than being selected from a slate of candidates. From beginning to end, the choice is God’s, not ours.
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