June 1, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’” (Luke 24.45-49)
“…and when they prayed and gave lots, it fell upon Matthias to be numbered among the disciples and become one of the twelve.” (Acts 1. 26)
Most of us are familiar with the song “Oh, when the Saints go marching in.” In it is a line declaring “to be one of that number.” Let me first say in reiteration that not everyone will be allowed into Heaven on the Last Day. It is a sad and sorrowful reality that should stir our heart, mind, soul and spirit. Hell is real and has been created for the Day of Eternal Sorrow. Not everyone who will say “Lord, Lord” on that day will do so with belief and believability. Many will continue to reject Jesus as Christ and Lord even in the midst of revelation, signs and wonders appearing in those days. Unbelievable! But, true. So hard will their hearts, mind, soul and spirit be that even in the face of truth they will deny it to be true. They will delude themselves into faking faithfulness but they will be revealed for who they truly are. So, the true believers, or the believers in truth, desire to be “one of that number” who are called into the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven come to earth.
But, today’s reflection is not about being “one of that number” going into the eternal home. It is rather about understanding that between the cross and the collection there is a “going out” into the world. The purpose of this “going out” was to broadcast the good news so that those who are far off but desire to draw near will be able to do just that. Can you imagine a farmer who went to sow seed doing so from inside a room? Exactly how successful would the effort be? Leave the tractor in the barn? I don’t think so. The parable of the sower frames the effort clearly saying “A man went OUT to sow seed.” The man not only went OUT but he broadcast the seed across the face of the earth. The man trusted the nature of the seed to accomplish the work of bearing fruit. The seed worked without concern for failure. The seed was created to react and not to “think about what could be.” The seed is “the Word of God” and belongs first in the hands of the sower who goes OUT into the world to broadcast the good news.
As the Eleven disciples gathered with that community of faith in Jesus as the Christ in the Upper Room (their number was about 120), they waited for what was about to stir them in their “going out.” I wonder how many others wanted to “be in that number”? How many desired to take on the commissioning which Jesus had proclaimed before His ascension into the clouds of Heaven? How many had the spirit of Isaiah striving within them saying “Here, I AM, send me” when the Lord called out “Who will go for us?” It is into that sense of belonging that the disciples/apostles recognized the need for completeness. Jesus had called, gathered in those who were chosen, twelve specific individuals to mentor and train for the ministry of the gospel. He did so knowing that one of them, Judas of Kerioth, would play the role of initiator that lead to Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Jesus died and so, too, did Judas. Judas took his own life in the recognition that he had missed the message and the opportunity to glorify God. Judas set his agenda ahead of that which the Messiah had for all their lives. Now, there were only Eleven. Was it that eleven disciples couldn’t do what Jesus called them to do? Not at all. He had sent them out previously two by two whether it was the twelve or seventy or seventy-two. But, twelve bore a certain significance as it pertained to their history as Jews and descendants of Israel. Jacob Israel had twelve sons who were the fathers of the Twelve Tribes of the nation which God established. By the time of the days of Jesus, ten of the tribes were considered “Lost Tribes.” The history of that reality is involved far beyond the scope of this reflection but serves as a point of reference. We must never forget the call to “gather that which is lost.”
It became important for the disciples to again be numbered as twelve. In their time of waiting for the promised blessing, they offered the need to God in prayer and supplication. They were led to chose one from their “number” who had experienced the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. That person would complete the circle of the Twelve and serve notice of the mission to “seek and to save” that which is lost. Matthias was called “in” to go “out” into all the world as an eye witness to the gospel in its fullness. It was a reminder not only of the New Israel, the Messianic community of faith, but a capturing of the purpose of that very community to draw all people back to God as the One True God. Oh, to be “one of that number”! Yes, as the saints prepared to engage their marching orders that strengthened their resolve and their ranks with a sense of completion and wholeness. The message of reconciliation was a holistic appeal to live seeking the Kingdom of God first and His righteousness.
How are we preparing to do the same as we approach Pentecost 2022 this Sunday? This is the question and purpose of this series of reflections. It is time for the Church to stop scattering and start broadcasting. Instead of diluting the truth with a social gospel, we should be proclaiming the whole truth and nothing but the truth of the gospel of Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah of this world and all worlds. What are the 100 sheep, if there are only 99? What are 10 coins, if there are only 9? What are 12 disciples, if there are only 11? These are the images of wholeness and purpose which Jesus instilled in His teachings. He reiterated them for forty days until the truth became default thinking. It wasn’t just to go out and do good things. It was about broadcasting the truth that salvation is for all people and not just a select few. It was about completing the ministry of making people whole again and not just part. It is time for the pure effort of being His disciples to be poured out on the world as an anointing. We will wait but not for long. We wait for the blessing and then wait no longer. But, the blessing is coming and we must be prepared to be “one of that number” going in in order to go “out.”
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
Abba, Father, our home is with You on earth as it is in Heaven. Empower us to take Your Word as the critical voice of reformation and reconciliation and speak the truth in love. We know this world is not forever. We know, too, that we are called to make of this world a better place. Yours is the glory and the design that makes the most sense. We offer ourselves to You so that Your will be done and our will be Yours. We offer to you our faithfulness to the task of living in memory of life and death which gives us the freedom to be who You have desired for us to be. It is for we pray In Jesus’ name. AMEN.