12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. Acts 1:12 (Read Acts 1:12-26)
On the mount called Olivet, the apostles and at least 120 faithful followers and family members, had just heard the “last charge” of Jesus, witnessed his breathtaking ascension into the clouds, and received the angels’ final benediction, that he would return at a later date in the same manner in which he left. While hopeful that the wait would not be too long, the feeling had to be his absence would be longer than shorter. There was no thundering applause, but a sobering silent walk back to Jerusalem, less than a mile down the dusty hill.
They had adopted the Upper Room as their center of operations going forward. Peter was now noticeably in charge, with the disciples in familiar couplets according to a now well established pecking order. There was a noticeable gap in their ranks left by the stunning betrayal and gruesome death of Judas Iscariot. Once settled, Peter dealt with the open position created by the absence of Judas as his first order of business.
But first, consider this. The inglorious fate of Judas, the manner in which he was paid for his treachery, the ultimate use of the “blood” money (to buy a Potter’s Field), and the subsequent opening in the ranks of the apostles, were all foretold in Scripture (see Psalm 109:8) or by the Lord himself, and then recalled by a once rough and tumble fisherman. In this context, what are the odds that what the angels said on the mount following the Lord’s ascension will come true? This particular prophecy, of course, is yet unfulfilled.
So, Peter was led to bring forth two faithful men who were with them from the beginning, that is who witnessed John’s baptism of Jesus, and his ascension mere moments ago. Two men were nominated who met these qualifications, Joseph called Barsabbas and sometimes Justus, and Matthias. Think about it for a minute, while not among the twelve, these men were faithfully by Jesus side and trailed him despite not being among the chosen for three years. They were probably a couplet of their own. This brief competition was going to be difficult, but the Holy Spirit through prayer would decide.
24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 25 to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” Acts 1:24–25
I am happy for Matthias but sad for Joseph. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? To suffer bitter disappointment for not having been chosen, especially since God did the choosing! Yet, I have to believe the believers there made sure both men realized it was unquestionably God’s doing, and that the mission would still be the same. That it was not about the office they held but the message they carried. Besides, in a few days Joseph called Barsabbas would be filled with Spirit of Jesus, and he would not look back. If he did have a few “heart” complications (“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men.”) they were likely dealt with at that time.