5/17/2015 12:52:56 PM
A reflection on Acts 1:15-17,21-26
This Easter season our texts from Acts have focused on how God breaks down the barriers we create to signal who is in God's family and who isn't. The early Christian movement grew with people who were not like the apostles and who were not Jews. As God brought different kinds of people into Christ's body, the early followers of Jesus were pushed beyond their comfort zones. The story of the early Christian movement is not just a story about a group of people who survived Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. The story also shows how different the makeup of the movement became after Christ died.
Today we're zooming to the beginning of Acts. The Christian movement is small and scattered. They're still figuring out what to do now that Jesus is no longer physically walking alongside them like he used to. The early disciples restructure themselves, realizing their 12 is now 11. The number 12 had special meaning for the people of Israel. It represented the 12 original tribes who settled the promised land after the Exodus from Egypt. 12 felt like a complete number so the apostles decided to find a replacement for the one who betrayed Jesus.
Replacing Judas must have been a difficult job. We know little about Judas except for what he did. The gospels might disagree in the details about how the betrayal happened but they are firm that Judas turned Jesus over to the authorities. Judas, who was probably one of the earliest followers of Jesus, betrayed their teacher, friend, and Messiah. He broke their trust deeply and severely. Even though Acts tells us that this had to happen, that reason doesn't negate the brokenness Judas caused their community.
So the disciples did what we do in times of transition, change, and healing: they gathered together and prayed. They asked God to help them move forward and they did this collectively, intentionally, and trusting that God would bring them through. Judas' memory and the wounds he inflicted in the community still remain. But we trust that they will be scarred over, reminding us that healing isn't only a return to how things were because even Jesus's wounds are still with him.