First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, May 9, 2021)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Matthias: The Chosen Apostle!”
We continue this morning our reflections on the forty-day period between Christ’s resurrection and His ascension. I believe this forty-day period is extremely important and it has so much to teach us today. The question I asked a few weeks back: What did Jesus do? What did He teach His disciples? How did He spend His time?
Over these past few weeks, we have had the chance to unpack these questions and alongside the way, we have learned some very valuable lessons for our journey. Thankfully, in the book of Acts chapter 1, Dr. Luke gives us some very helpful information about this forty-day period. Let me very briefly remind you of some of the lessons we have learned so far and I will add a short one today.
First: Jesus Christ is Really AliveThe resurrection of Jesus is so central to the Christian faith. It’s God’s way of accepting the sacrifice of Christ. It’s the validation of Christ’s ministry and mission. If Christ has not been raised from the dead, our faith is futile, and we are still in our sins. Christ’s resurrection is a reminder that death is not the end. Death doesn’t have the final word. We will live beyond the grave. The empty tomb is a reminder that our God is alive and He is present with us today and till the end of the age. No wonder that Luke wrote in Acts 1:3 that Jesus, after His suffering, presented Himself alive to His disciples by many convincing proofs.
Second: God’s Kingdom Must Be our Highest PriorityIn Acts 1:3 Luke tells us that during these forty days, Jesus spoke with His disciples about the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is God’s rule over our lives. In the gospels, Jesus referred to the kingdom in one way or another about eighty times. It was clearly the central theme of His teaching. God’s kingdom, God’s work in the world, should be our highest priority. As anyone else, followers of Jesus have their share of life; yet, we are human beings who have been transformed by God’s grace therefore we live with a different mindset. God’s kingdom must be our highest priority.
Third: The Importance of Community
A third lesson that I underscored last week and that’s the importance of community. In Acts 1:12-14, Luke tells us that during these forty days the disciples were TOGETHER. Community is at the heart of Jesus movement. If it’s so, we should not give up meeting together but encourage one another. We shouldn’t forsake the assembly of believers. Faith is a journey and it’s not meant to be traveled alone.
Matthias: The New Apostle
As we get to the last part of Acts chapter 1, we see the disciples returning to Jerusalem after the ascension of Jesus on Mount Olivet. They were about one hundred and twenty in number at the time. Peter appeared to have become the leader of the group at this stage. Peter stood up and said to the gathering that it was important for Judas Iscariot to be replaced in order to fulfill the scriptures where David said: “Let his habitation be desolate and his office let another take.”
According to Peter the person to be elected to replace Judas must have been with the group from the time of the baptism of Jesus, throughout His ministry to His resurrection. Two people were nominated; Joseph also called Barsabbas and Matthias. The disciples prayed to God so that His choice may be made from among the two candidates. They cast lots and Matthias was chosen to add to the eleven disciples that were left.
So what do we take home from the story? The story of Matthias’ election reminds us of two great lessons. 1. It’s not about our popularity, it’s all about our faithfulness. Luke tells us in Acts chapter 1 that the praying assembly of believers came up with two names: Joseph and Matthias. We know nothing for sure about either one. They were not as well-known as the rest of Christ’s disciples. But the truth is God doesn’t care about our popularity; he looks at your heart. We don’t know much about these candidates, yet God knows them very well.
But there is another great lesson that you and I can learn from the story of choosing Matthias. 2. When it comes to our calling, there is no such a thing as a small task. If God calls you to do something, do it and follow where God leads. The Bible tells us nothing about Matthias or what he did after he became the 12th apostle. He’s never mentioned again. Some Christian traditions say Matthias planted the church in Cappadocia; others believe that Matthias preached the gospel of Jesus in Ethiopia and he planted the Ethiopian church. Another tradition maintains that Matthias was stoned at Jerusalem by the Jews, and then beheaded. The Bible doesn’t tell us what Matthias did, but we know he did what God called him to do.
Friends, like Matthias, we have been called by God to serve Him and serve others in His name. It’s not about our popularity, but about our faithfulness to follow where God leads. There is no “small” or “insignificant” task when it comes to God’s calling. If God is calling you to do something, it means it’s significant and it’s extremely important. Today is Mother’s Day and we are here because of the faithfulness of a mom or a grand mom who took the time to pray with us or told us a story from the Bible or brought us week after week to Sunday School. These things most likely seemed small or insignificant back them, but they brought us closer to Jesus. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last,” said Jesus in John 15:16. Amen.
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