Speaking of the life of Jesus’s quiet, earthly father, Joseph, bible teacher Dr. Bill Ury said, “There is a soul, none half so beautiful, as a common, unpoetic life.” The late chosen apostle, Matthias, is another of those beautiful, unpoetic souls.
Matthias: His name is not well known. His name doesn’t roll off our tongue like “Peter,” “James,” or “John.” But I commend him to you as a quiet but faithful man, rewarded because he kept showing up.
And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:21, 26).
The little that we know of Matthias tells a fascinating story. He very likely became a disciple of John, but when one better than John came along—one John called, “the Lamb of God,” Matthias became a devoted follower of Jesus.
When Jesus chose his team of apostles, Matthias was not a first-round draft pick (Judas was chosen over him!) yet he and Jesus were inseparable. Luke said that Matthias was one who, “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”
(Acts 1:21). Matthias was not a position seeker but simply a committed Jesus follower.
Matthias wasn’t on Jesus’ inner circle but probably heard every sermon. He saw the miracles. He was likely one of the seventy Jesus sent out to preach. He endured the hardships of discipleship. He ate where Jesus ate and slept were Jesus slept. He saw Jesus die and was a witness to his resurrection. Matthias missed nothing.
He is never recognized in the gospels as an up-and-coming leader. There is no indication of the spiritual stature he will someday have. But what I love about Matthias is that he just keeps showing up! Day after day he is there, on the good days and bad days, on the exciting days and the disappointing days. Jesus doesn’t have to promise him a position to keep him around. He’s not waiting for a vacancy.
Even after the ascension you can’t shake Matthias. He’s there with the apostles as they pray together, and as they wait for the “Promise of the Father.” And suddenly… after 1,000 days of showing up and following Jesus, he gets picked by the Holy Spirit to be an apostle! God, who knows the heart, picked him to serve the newly formed Church in a special way! Matthias hadn’t asked for it. I’m sure he was humbled by his selection, but he was chosen among the twelve to be a special witness.
One church tradition says that Matthias eventually went to Ethiopia as a missionary and there became a martyr. There is nothing else said of him in scripture. It seems that even after he was chosen to be an apostle, he remained his quiet self. But this man of God is an encouragement and a challenge to all who sometimes get overlooked.
Father of Jesus, help us to be faithful as Matthias was. Sanctify our ambitions and give us the heart of a servant; the heart content with any office, or no office, so long as we get to be a part of your expanding Kingdom! In Jesus name, amen.
To learn more about the relationship between humility and Christian maturity, please check out SGC’s course, “Spiritual Formation”.