“In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters,[d] the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry. 18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.). 20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms: “‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’[e] and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’[f] Acts 1.15-20
When people talk about the early church, they do so with reverence and awe. They say things like— “If only we could be a New Testament Church.” Or, “If only we could be like the first church in the book of Acts. They had it all together.” But in truth, the first church was just as messy as our churches today. Yes, their formation came upon the heals of Jesus’ ascension, which is more than cool, but of of their first course of business was to replace a murderer and traitor who was among their number.
The first church organized with 120 members, 11 disciples minus one who betrayed the Messiah himself. Of course Peter explains this was necessary for the Scripture to be fulfilled (v.16). Psalms and King David spoke to the fulfillment of this prophecy – “May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it, and ’May another take his place of leadership.’”
Judas’ replacement was their second course of business after leaving Jesus and assembling in prayer in the Upper Room. Still, it shows us that churches can get messy because they are made of sinful people.
It’s also important to note how Peter takes the lead. He who was once catching fish is now taking command over this first church. He’s stepped up into his role of leadership from captaining a boat to building a congregation. His purpose was to reflect Jesus. Replacing the disciple Judas with a new man as his first act of administration. It’s the work of an Elder in the church.
Just as Judas failed in his leadership, so Peter stepped up to his potential. Each of us have also been given a calling. Obviously, we want to follow in the footsteps of a faithful leader like Peter rather than a failed leader like Judas.
How is God asking you to lead? What is the daring you to do that only he can do through you?
“O Lord God, come now to this place. Find me faithful, fill my mind with your love and purity. Help me walk in your steps of holiness and hope. Come now, Holy Spirit, help me be the person you’ve called me to be. So I might fulfill my purpose and love you deeply and grow your kingdom. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen