Jump Start # 2567
Acts 1:26 “And thy drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
I’m writing this on a Friday. Sunday is our favorite day of the week, no question. But from all the things on our website, one would think that Friday is a close second. On Friday we post our Jump Start daily, a Quick Quote, our daily Bible reading, Friday Fives, and our Heaven Bound podcast. Lots of spiritual tools to help you and encourage you. We hope that you use these and share these.
I was thinking about Joseph. Not the O.T. Joseph, the second in command under Pharaoh. Not the Joseph who married Mary, the mother of Jesus. Not even the rich Joseph that allowed Jesus to be buried in his tomb. Not those Josephs. There is another one and he gets very little attention. He is called Joseph but he was also known as Barsabbas, which sound pretty close to the criminal that Pilate released at the trial of Jesus. This Joseph was a disciple of Jesus. He had been around for a long time. And, when a replacement for Judas was to be chosen, two names were put forth. One was Matthias and the other, our Joseph.
The apostles prayed. Lots were drawn. The choice went to Matthias. Joseph was almost an apostle. Joseph, we’d say, was the runner up. Joseph was so close. We are not told any more about this Joseph. Did people remind him about not being chosen the rest of his life? Did he think that he simply wasn’t good enough? Did he feel that God never really liked him?
Some of us have stood in the shadows of Joseph. In school, posted on the door is a list of all the ones that made the team. You search, and your name is not on the list. You didn’t make it. A school play, and the cast is posted. Your name is not among them. Left out. Second place. Sidelines. JV. Didn’t get the scholarship. Didn’t get the award. Didn’t get into the school you wanted. Didn’t make the dean’s list. Didn’t get the promotion. Not MVP. Not salesman of the year. Not employee of the month. Nothing. Nada. Empty. Skipped over. Not chosen.
It’s hard to stand along side a Joseph. I have several books about the apostles. Joseph’s name is not listed. In sermon series and classes about the apostles, Joseph is overlooked. He’s not an apostle. He’s not one of them. Sometimes, this feeling is magnified within a family. One child makes the team and the other doesn’t. One child gets the awards, the other doesn’t. One child is the superstar, and the other isn’t. That’s enough for a lifetime of resent, jealousy and ill feelings towards each other.
Let me tell you how I see Joseph. I base this upon his knowing Jesus and the very fact that he was one of two finalists to be an apostle. There was something there. The disciples saw something in him. Here is how I expect it happened.
First, Joseph would have been one of the first to embrace Matthias. He would have given his full support for him. He would have shown true character, heart and unity. He wouldn’t have been upset. This was God’s decision.
Second, throughout his life, I expect Joseph prayed for all the apostles, but especially Matthias. The choice to be an apostle was not glitter and glamor. They were hunted down. They were sought after. They were chased, put in prison, beaten and often hungry. It was going to be a long, lonely and hard life. Paul said that they were the scum of the earth. As news came in about the apostles from various parts, I could see Joseph being especially interested in knowing how Matthias was doing. That could have been him. I can see him praying long and hard for Matthias’ safety.
Third, as the churches grew and became stronger, they often sent money to help the apostles. I could see a Joseph pleading to send some help to Matthias, out there on the edge of the frontier of faith. I wouldn’t be surprised if Joseph even sent letters to Matthias to encourage him.
Now, you might ask, how do you know these things? Because this is what a person of character does. Going home and pouting for the rest of his life is not what God would want. Becoming bitter, even opposed to the work of the apostles is not within the spiritual DNA of one who walks with Jesus. Grace. Kindness. Gentleness. This is what the Lord taught and this is what shapes His disciples.
Now, how do you and I act when it is our turn to stand in the shadows with Joseph? We are not the one chosen. Maybe the congregation is looking for more shepherds or deacons. Your name doesn’t come up. Or, if it does, for some reason, you are not chosen. You stand with this Joseph. Do you quit attending? Do you try to split the church? Do you say mean things about the current leaders? Or, like a person of quality and character, you support, defend and help the current leaders in any way that you can?
Winning is easy. Losing is hard. It’s hard to lose with grace, dignity and to keep your head and your character where it belongs. Joseph wasn’t chosen to be an apostle. Yet, he could still preach. He could still encourage. He could still teach. He could still serve in other ways. You learn a lot about a person who doesn’t win.
I like this Joseph. I hope he made it to Heaven. I’ve love to sit down and hear his story. Even today, we have well known names within the kingdom. They serve well. They do great work. Just about everyone knows them. But, there’s a lot more Joseph’s than we may realize. Good men. People of character and heart. People who are not known outside of their own congregation. But backbone people. Quality people. People of faith, sacrifice and heart. They are simply doing what they can from their spot in the kingdom.
Thank you, Joseph. What a great reminder you are to all of us. Do what you can and God will plug you in where He sees fit.