Monday, February 25, 2013

Who Was Matthias?

"And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles" (Acts 1:26).

Every February 24 we remember St. Matthias.  This week and next we'll answer the question,

Who Was Matthias and What Can We Learn from Him?
The man who replaced Judas.  What's fun to watch in Acts 1 is that following the ascension of Jesus the apostles start doing things "on their own."  Peter preaches his first sermon - a warm-up for his Pentecost sermon in Acts 2.  He talks about the need to replace Judas who took his own life shortly after his betrayal.  Two candidates are put forward, and the lot falls on Matthias.
The man who made twelve.  The death of Judas left eleven apostles.  There seems to be a special significance behind having twelve.  It has to do with the fact that in the Old Testament Israel had twelve tribes.  The new Israel, the church, likewise has twelve apostles.  Matthias made it twelve again.
The man who did not appoint himself.  We can learn "a lot" from this.  When they prayed, "Lord, show which one of these two You have chosen" (Acts 1:24), they were addressing none other than the Lord Jesus.  And so Jesus chose Matthias, just as He chose the other eleven.  So not one of the apostles appointed himself.  To this day a pastor does not appoint himself but is called by God through the congregation.  We can all hear and apply these words of Jesus: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit" (John 15:16).
Next week, five more!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Luther's Last

"I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children" (Matt. 11:25).

"Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).

On February 15, 1546, Martin Luther preached his final sermon.  The basis was Matthew 11:25-30.  He ended the sermon this way:

"Lo, this means that the wise of this world are rejected, that we may learn not to think ourselves wise and to put away from our eyes all great personages, indeed, to shut our eyes altogether, and cling only to Christ's Word and come to Him, as He so lovingly invites us to do, and say: 'Thou alone art my beloved Lord and Master, I am Thy disciple.'  This and much more might be said concerning this Gospel, but I am too weak and we shall let it go at that."

He died on February 18.  Among his last words: "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46).