Monday, October 10, 2011

Acts 1:15-26, Gambling on Matthias

In this passage, you'll learn how to make God answer your prayers without delay. All you have to do is grab some lots and…Lots? What the hell are lots anyway? Okay, okay. Never mind. I'm calling a do-over. Now, instead, go find a coin. Then tell God what answer is heads and what answer is tails (e.g., "Heads: Go to church; Tails: Stay home and masterbate"). Then pray, flip it, and behold! Prayer answered! What’s God gonna do, not let it land? No, he’s gonna answer your prayer. Works every time.

Judas kissing Jesus
No means no,

It was about a month after the crucifixion and there were 120 believers together in Jerusalem, which was convenient because that makes for a nice apostle to non-apostle ratio: Every apostle gets ten believers. Or nine believers. Whatever. The point is this: The number of believers is perfectly divisible by twelve - as in twelve apostles. Hello? That totally proves God exists. God exists and - praise be his name - he is in control!

Almost. There was still one order of business left to address. The gang was one apostle short.

So Peter stood up among the believers and said, "Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which David foretold us concerning Judas.a And in case any of you newbies haven’t been keeping up, the evil person who guided them to arrest Jesus…was Judas!

“What? No, not you, Judas Son of James. Judas Iscariot, okay? That was only funny the first thousand times. Anyway, Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve and he had an equal share in this ministry.”

And the believers all wondered to themselves, “Ministry? What ministry? Are not these the last days? Why do we need a ministry?”

(For Judas bought a field with the reward he was paid for his sinful deed. His wicked, sinful deed. His wicked, sinful, shitty, yet absolutely necessary-or-we’d-all-be-fucked deed.

Legend has it that Judas died in his field and that his stomach burst open like an overripe tomato, and all his bowels gushed out. That’s usually what happens when one lies in a field...all dead and bloated. They're bound to pop. Anyway, this is why people of Jerusalem know the field as Hakeldama, or Akeldama, or some shit. However you spell it, it means Field of Overripe Tomato.

Another legend has it that Judas hung himself, but that’s a stupid legend.)

Peter continued, "For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it'; and ‘Let another take his position of overseer'; and ‘You can't say Judas without saying Jew. Or ass.’ No offense to you, Judas Son of James.”

And everyone who heard Peter said, “Let the reinterpretation of the Hebrew Bible begin!”

Continuing, Paul said, “Why else would Judas hastily buy a field far from Galilee and burst open in it, but only to fulfill these scriptures I found?b

"So one of you who has accompanied us during all the time that we hung out with the Lord Jesus, beginning from his baptism by Johnc until the day when he was taken up. One of you must become a witness with us to his resurrection."d

And many of them thought, “What does become a witness mean?” Some also thought, “Since when did that impulsive, half-wit, scaredy-cat, lying-about-knowing-Jesus Peter become such a spiritual sage? We’re not even in chapter two yet.”

Magic Eight Ball
God's Magic 8-Ball in the Sky

So they proposed two replacements: Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias, who didn't have a bunch of other names. Then they prayed and said, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Jude-Ass turned aside to go his own way."

And, like good Graeco-Roman citizens, they cast lots. But unlike bad Graeco-Roman pagans, these lots were prayed over. That makes, like, a shitload of difference.

The lots landed on Matthias, mostly because the lots were confused about who the hell Joseph-Barsabbas-Justus was.

So Matthias was added to the eleven apostles. He had a lot of catching up to do because Jesus had been teaching the others continuously until the great and powerful Oz brought him back to heaven in that hot air balloon. Or something.

Also, since Jesus didn’t actually choose Matthais, the other eleven treated Matthais like the guys in Metallica treated their new bass player when that bus rolled over their old base player.

And so Matthias, a man never mentioned before, was the new number twelve.

And he shall never be mentioned again.

a. Some authorities add sort of
b. Some authorities add sort of
c. Was Peter even at Jesus's baptism?
d. Whaa?? You can't just declare someone to be a witness. What about the witnessing part?