So evidently the 2 guys that were being considered to replace Judas as an apostle had been a part of Jesus’ entourage from the very beginning of his public ministry (vs.21-22). Already they had been passed over once to be a part of Jesus’ team of 12. But, nevertheless, they continued to demonstrate faithfulness and love for Jesus and ministry despite what we might would consider major rejection. It would have only been natural to ask questions like, “Why did Jesus pick him and not me?”, or “What’s wrong with me that I didn’t make the team?”
Fast forward 3 three years and now an opening on the team has come available. Matthias and Barsabbas have been nominated and after prayer and the casting of lots (which is a interesting way to determine God’s will) Matthias is chosen and again Barsabbas is not.
At this point nothing else is said in Scripture about either of these guys. So nothing definitive can be said about how they reacted and responded. But here’s what I suspect. I suspect that Matthias accepted his new role as an apostle with grace and humility and trust in the sovereignty of God. And I suspect that Barsabbas accepted not being chosen with grace and humility and trust in the sovereignty of God. Why do I suspect this? For two reasons: 1) They had been hanging around Jesus for the last 3 years and seen Him model grace and humility and trust in the sovereignty of God. 2) Their track record suggests this as well. Even when they were not chosen the first time they still followed closely and proved themselves to be not just tag alongs who wanted glory and recognition but disciples who were willing to “lose their lives” for the sake of the gospel.
There are several lessons to be learned here when we face rejection and disappointment.
1) Rejoice with those who rejoice – Human nature makes it difficult to celebrate other people’s successes when we experience defeat. The gospel however makes it possible for us to do so because of the Spirit of God dwelling within us. Not necessarily easy, because we are always fighting against our sin nature… but possible as we abide in Christ.
2) Remain faithful – It is a test of our character to remain faithful in the midst of defeat and disappointment. It has often been said that you can learn much more about a person’s character from the way they handle disappointment than from the way they handle success. Barsabbas was evidently a man of great character.
3) Grace, humility, and trust in the sovereignty of God are the fruit of those who are followers of Jesus.
We do not know much about either of these guys – but no doubt the reason that they were even considered was because for several years the other disciples had recognized that they both had what it takes to do the job of apostle. My guess is that even though Barsabbas was not chosen to be an official apostle that he did the work of an apostle without the title or recognition. That says a lot about the man!