How would you like to be known as the guy who followed Judas Iscariot? The only apostle who was NOT called directly by Jesus but instead who got his office by divine chance (the drawing of lots)? The one who was never named before or after that rather odd election?
All the above describe just one man: Matthias. On February 24, a number of church bodies (including our Missouri Synod) commemorate St. Matthias. Other churches (like the Roman Catholic Church) have moved their remembrance from that date to one in May — yet another sign of just how Matthias is the “Rodney Dangerfield of the apostles”. He just doesn’t get any respect.
Before Matthias was elected, St. Peter laid out the job requirements. Because Judas had killed himself, there was a vacancy — just as there were twelve tribes of Israel, so there must be twelve apostles in the Church (the new Israel). And the “new” man must be someone who was with Jesus and the others for the entire time of His ministry — from the baptism by John, all the way until His death on the cross and Easter’s empty tomb, and then the ascension into heaven 40 days later. He must be one who was an eye-witness to it all, so that his words were not just hearsay but unimpeachable testimony. And so two men were proposed: our man Matthias and “Joseph called Barsabbas, also known as Justus”. How do you like that! Matthias’ “competition” is called Barsabbas (which likely means “son of the Sabbath” — what a holy name THAT is!) and nicknamed “Justus” (the just man). It doesn’t sound too good for Matthias, does it? And yet he is the one that God chose. He is the one who is elected an apostle, and accounted as the equal of Peter or John or any of the rest. He will sit on a throne in heaven, alongside Christ Himself (Matthew 19:28).
You see, God has a place for everyone. Even the anonymous, unknown guys like Matthias. And you and me. God has called US to be His own dear children. He has given us an office and purpose. Maybe you are a member of the church’s board. Or a professional church worker. Or a volunteer serving as usher, acolyte, Sunday School teacher, choir member, or altar guild member. Perhaps your calling is to greet and welcome folks as they come into church. Or invite your friends and neighbors. Or maybe it is something else altogether. But in any case, God certainly DOES have something for you to do. Something He has designed just for you. Maybe you won’t get any more notoriety and recognition than did Matthias. But it doesn’t really matter, does it? What matters is what God has done for you in the person and work of Jesus, given to you by the Holy Spirit. THAT is what St. Matthias would have told you. And he would be right.