Read - Acts 1v12-26
Message - Scott Woodburn
As I read Acts 1, I'm always struck by how fragile the church of Jesus Christ has been throughout history. The fellowship has returned to Jerusalem at the Lord's command (v12) and Luke outlines the familiar names of the disciples (v13). They were joined by many women (v14b), the Lord's mother Mary was there (v14c) and so too were her other sons (v14d).
Luke with his typical attention to detail tells us that the entire company numbered about 120 (v15). 120. Just 120. Was that the entire number of Christians in the world at the time? We cannot say with any degree of certainty but we can agree that the Lord's church in those days wouldn't be filling the SSE Arena or even the Waterfront.
Yet as small as the church was, they were not wasting their time. With one accord they were devoted to the work of prayer (v14a). I suspect churches of all shapes and sizes in 2021 could do with meditating on such a verse. Not only did they pray but with one eye on their coming ministry they began the process of replacing Judas Iscariot (v16-17).
He had betrayed the Lord Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26v14-15) but filled with remorse he returned the money, throwing it down in the temple (Matthew 27v5). Judas then went and hung himself in the so called "potter's field" (Matthew 27v7) and eventually his body, rotting and bloated, fell headlong into the field and his bowels gushed out (Acts 1v18). The field had been purchased by the ill gotten gains of Judas and therefore could be considered as his field (Acts 1v18) despite the fact it was the chief priests who used the money to buy it (Matthew 27v7).
The field became known as the "field of blood" and the events surrounding the death of Judas fulfilled the Scriptures as found in Psalm 69v25 and Psalm 109v8. Judas may be considered quite famous for his repugnant acts but his replacement certainly isn't well known. The disciples prayed, cast lots and appointed Matthias as the replacement for Judas (v24-26).
And so chapter one ends in this way - a small fellowship with a brand new, little known leader called Matthias. Was this really the group who would be taking the Gospel to the nations? Yes, really. The growth of the church has never been dependant upon size, strength, celebrity or even ability. The Apostles were witness of the resurrection (v22) and it would be by the means of their preaching, in answer to their prayers, that the Lord would add to their number each day. This year may we put aside the gimmicks and be thankful for the ordinary means of grace.
Q62 What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment? The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the Sabbath day.