In what can be called the continuing saga of Judas early in the book of Acts, the character that seems to get lost is Matthias, the new disciple chosen to take the place of the betrayer. We know very little about Matthias - he is not mentioned by name in any of the Gospel accounts, and Acts tells us very little about him except that he was one of two men to fit the criteria that the eleven proposed for the replacement. He is chosen by lot to replace Judas, and then he disappears into the obscurity of history.
Yet for as little as we know about Matthias, we know also quite much about him. For we identify with Matthias on many levels.
Matthias invested himself in the ministry of Jesus. One of the criteria that the eleven had when searching for a replacement is that it had to be someone who was with them from the beginning, someone who had shared their same ministry with Jesus that they had. Matthias, then, was there for it all. He was just as invested, just as present, just as involved as any of the other disciples. He gave himself to the work of Jesus for three years of ministry, through travels across the cities and towns of Galilee to feasts on the hillsides to dinner with the tax collector to moments of grace and debates over ritual law and all the rest of it. Matthias had invested just as much in the ministry of Jesus as any of the rest of them; they said so himself.
But we never knew his name.
We never saw Matthias in any of the stories. We never heard about him until the disciples brought him up. Many of us can resonate with this. Many of us have those things in our lives that we've given ourselves to. Our careers, maybe. Or our families. Or our communities. We have worked hard, sacrificed much, done just as much (and sometimes more) than someone else, but we receive no recognition. We receive no renown. We serve faithfully in obscurity, waiting for our opportunity. Waiting for our moment. This was Matthias' story.
And the funny thing is that even though he is immensely qualified to become the twelfth disciple, even though he fits all of the criteria and has demonstrated that he is worthy of such an honor, it still comes down to chance. To casting lots. He is imminently qualified, but it is a roll of the dice that determines whether he gets it or not. Don't you feel like that sometimes? Don't you feel like sometimes, you give life everything you've got, but it still comes down to whether the dice roll your way or not?
After all this, after three years of ministry and one good roll of the dice, after all the waiting and the working and finally, the recognition, Matthias had to, in some ways, find it all very hollow. It was empty. for less than one chapter of the entire Bible, we know his name. And then he disappears and we never hear another thing about him. Not one. His moment of fame came...and went...and whatever else Matthias may or may not have done as a disciple of Jesus suffers the same fate as whatever he has previously done as a disciple of Jesus - it's a vapor. It's nothing.
Do you ever feel this? You get your big chance, get your big moment and it's never as big as you dreamt it would have been. It's never as great. It's never as lasting. For a minute, this world knows your name, and then it forgets again. For a brief moment, you were almost something, and now you're nothing. Just like that.
It's the story of the world we live in. It's the myth that we've bought about how life works, about who we are, about who we're supposed to be. We live in this perpetual cycle of doing the faithful thing, waiting patiently for our day, getting our chance, and discovering it empty, only to buy the lie again that if we do the faithful thing and wait patiently, we'll get our chance. It's always empty. It's always hollow. This world has nothing to offer us. But still, it's our story.
And it's Matthias' story.
So this thirteenth disciple, this replacement for the betrayer, is not so unlike us. Though we seem to know little more than his name, we know tremendously more than this. His story is our story. It's the story we're all caught up in.
And there is one more painful truth about this whole scenario. That truth, tomorrow....