In this passage, we see the choosing of Matthias to take Judas’ place as one of the 12. A couple of minor points before I get to my main point.
Some people think that Peter and the other apostles made a mistake in appointing Matthias as the one to replace Judas. That actually, Paul should have been the one who took Judas’ place, and that Jesus in appearing to Paul and appointing him as an apostle had, in effect, appointed him as the one to take Judas’ place.
I used to think that, but now I’m not so sure. In particular, because Paul himself recognized Matthias’ position as one of the 12 in I Corinthians 15:5. He hardly could have meant the resurrected Jesus appeared to Judas when Judas was already dead. So he must have meant Matthias. Paul also said of himself that he was the least of the apostles, and was not even fit to be called an apostle (although he clearly was one). (I Corinthians 15:9)
The second point is on Judas’ death. Matthew 27 says that the chief priests took the money that Judas had scattered before them and bought a field while Judas went and hung himself. Here in Acts it says that Judas bought the field, and that he plunged headlong and his body burst open. How do we reconcile the two?
Apparently, Judas had hung himself on a cliff over the valley of Hinnom, and perhaps some time later, after his body had started to decompose, the rope snapped or was cut and his body fell headlong into a field in that valley. Perhaps having heard what had happened, the priests then bought the field in Judas’ name, as it really wasn’t “temple money.” (Matthew 27:6)
Now on to the main point. It’s very interesting that the other apostles talked about how Judas had shared in their ministry. There can be little doubt that he had preached the good news of the kingdom, cast out demons, and healed the sick as Jesus had commanded them on their two mission trips throughout Israel (Luke 9-10).
And yet, even then, Jesus knew his heart. That though Judas did all these things, his heart was not truly with Jesus. And the time came when Judas was exposed, and ultimately cast out from his position.
He was then replaced by another whose heart was right before God.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that for those of us in ministry, we really need to search our hearts every day. To search our motives. To see if our hearts our truly His. We can do many things in Jesus’ name. People can even get saved in our ministry. But God knows our hearts. And if our hearts are not right before him, the time will come when we will be cast out from our position and be replaced.
Even worse would be if the day came when we stand before Jesus and say,
Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? (Matthew 7:22)
But Jesus looks at us, and says,
I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! (7:23)
Where is your heart? Have you truly given your heart to Jesus? Or are you just playing a role? If you are simply playing a role, whether you’re a Christian or not, eventually your position will be taken from you as it was taken from Judas. And it will be given to someone whose heart belongs to Christ.
Who does your heart belong to?