Archives: Acts 1:15-26

Apostle: The Job You Didn’t Know You Had

“One of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.”

This is a line from our scripture from Acts today. The disciples are beginning to build the early church, to take up their mission and go forward in the spreading of the Good News, now that Jesus has ascended to heaven.

But Jesus began the leadership of the church with twelve apostles, and since Judas’s death, they are down to only eleven. They need someone to replace him, to be a witness as Peter says.

In the crushing tragedy of the crucifixion and the giddy uplift of the resurrection, the disciples have been broken down and remade.

They are actually no longer just disciples; they have become something else.

The word “disciple” means “one who is taught.”

When they followed Jesus on earth, listening to his preaching, seeing his miracles, receiving his instruction, they were disciples, ones who were taught.

But now they have crossed over.

Their personal, visceral experience of abandoning Jesus when they wanted to stay by his side, feeling their hearts break in two when he died on the Cross, and then suddenly knowing themselves to be healed and whole when he came to them, alive again, has changed them forever.

They are no longer disciples, ones who are taught. They are apostles.

The word “apostle” means “one who is sent.”

They have been sent by Jesus to go forward and spread the Good News, to preach liberation to the captives, bind up the brokenhearted, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

And what does it mean to be an apostle, one who is sent?

How does one qualify for it?

I think although we easily identify ourselves as “disciples,” followers of Jesus who seek to learn from him and imitate him, we think of the apostles as “others,” just the Twelve, big, important, historical people that we have little to do with.

They’re heroes and martyrs, leaders and prophets, bold preachers and architects of the early church.

There were only Twelve of them.

We’re not apostles.

We could never be that great.

And frankly, we don’t really want to.

We’d rather outsource work that hard and that grand to someone else, comfortably far away in a dusty old Bible story.

But I have challenging Good News today: we’re all called to be apostles as much as we are called to be disciples. Continue reading

Gambling and Math: Methodology of the Holy Spirit

Well, folks, we’ve got some real crazy going on in our lesson from Acts today.

Ascension Day was on Thursday, and Jesus has left.

Now what are we supposed to do?

And Pentecost is some days off both for us and the original disciples. The Holy Spirit, called the Comforter, has not arrived yet and we find ourselves rather at a loss as to what to do next.

Luckily, Peter has an idea.

Peter always has an idea, and he always wants to share it. Whether it is building booths on the mountainside for Jesus, Elijah and Moses or jumping out of a boat in a storm to walk on water to test if Jesus is a ghost, Peter is nothing if not a man of action.

So Peter says that the next step for us to take is to find a replacement for Judas.

Jesus wanted twelve apostles, and so, by God, we’re going to have twelve apostles.

Who has been with us since day one? Who has been here since we first saw John the Baptist baptizing in the River Jordan?

Everyone looks around the room and two names come up: Joseph called Barsabbas, also known as Justus, and Matthias.

I see two very different men when I picture these two in my head. Continue reading

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