The Witness of Post-resurrection Apostles
The Witness of Post-resurrection Apostles
A Monumental Decision
Upon the death of Judas, who betrayed Jesus Christ that resulted in His capture, crucifixion, death and resurrection, the Apostles decided to find a replacement for him. Peter, took the lead in defining the qualification of the new Apostle, who would take the place of Judas in the post-resurrection era; accordingly, Peter said,
“So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:21-26, ESV).
Finding a suitable replacement for Judas was a monumental decision for the disciples. This was their first major decision after Jesus was gone from their midst in His human form. With Jesus, their leader gone, the disciples must lead and make decisions, as needed.
All the other Apostles were chosen by Jesus himself, using his own selection criterion. Now, Mathias, was chosen using the criterion: someone, who would serve as a strong witness for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Bearing witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ became central to the Apostles after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. This is exactly what the Apostle Peter did in his first public address after the ascension of Jesus Christ: “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all [including Mathias] are witnesses” (Acts 2:32).
Mathias was a Jesus Follower
Peter expected the new Apostle to be:
- Men who had accompanied them during the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among them (Acts 1:21)
- Men who accompanied them from the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist until the day when He was taken up from them (Acts 1:22).
Peter was looking for a person, who followed Jesus everyday just as if he were one of the Apostles. He was looking for a man, who was attracted to Jesus for who He was and was following Him without a formal appointment. Peter looked for someone who wanted to observe everything Jesus did and heard everything He said. In other words, Peter looked for a person who wanted to be with Jesus, on his own accord. Mathias met these requirements—a requirement of all Biblical leaders.
Mathias was a Witness to the Resurrection
In the above passage, the Apostle Peter defined the calling of Apostles saying, each Apostle must become “a witness to His resurrection.” Later, the Apostle Paul confirms the importance of bearing witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ in his own words. He said,
“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, preached in my gospel." (2 Timothy 2:8).
In the passages above, the Apostle Paul implies, without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, he would not be preaching or trusting in Jesus Christ; thus, Paul reiterates Peter.
If “being a witness to Jesus’ resurrection” was good enough for the Apostles, it should be good enough for Biblical leaders and gospel proclaimers today.
Apostles lost their Fear
After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples remained secluded until the day of Pentecost. On that day, as described in Acts Chapter 2, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter became a bold witness to the resurrection in front of thousands of locals and strangers from many lands. In Acts 4:16-20, we see the apostles are fearless and defiant in their confrontation with local religious leaders, who tell them not to proclaim Jesus Christ.
By some accounts, 11 of the 12 Apostles, except the Apostle John, were killed for being a witness for the resurrection of Jesus Christ; they did not backdown. After the resurrection, fearful disciples became fearless men even though Jesus had warned them:
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. (John 15:20).
The Resurrection in our Witness
The importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in our witness cannot be any less than what Peter described as the essential qualification of an Apostle in his days. While we were not physical witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it still forms the core of our witness today.
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