So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when He was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to His resurrection.” And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two You have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:21-26 ESV)
So what happened to Joseph Barsabbas, the one not chosen as an Apostle? Did he graciously accept the Lord’s decision and continue serving in other ways? Or was he hurt and dejected? Was the wind knocked out of him? Did he retreat in prayer and ask, “Lord, what is wrong with me?” Did the Lord already reveal to him that He has another job for him to do? These are all interesting thoughts. Remember that Stephen was not an Apostle, but his testimony as the first martyr was incredible, even as far as Jesus raising to His feet from His throne to greet him at his death. Tradition has it that Joseph Barsabbas was martyred, but no one knows for sure.
When it comes down to us, should it really matter if we are chosen or not for something? Let’s look at what Jesus said to Peter:
Jesus said this to let him (Peter) know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.” Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved (John)—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” (John 21:19-22 NLT)
Now let’s go one step further: should it really matter, even if we have our heart set on something, if we are chosen or not, just as long as we are following Jesus and being right where He wants us to be?
Look at the following two men, both from the book of Luke. One was asked to leave everything and come follow Jesus, which he didn’t. While the other wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus told him to go back and be a witness to his family and town, which he obeyed:
And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “……. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. (Luke 18:18-23 ESV)
So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:37b-39 NLT)
Each of us who has accepted Jesus Christ as our savior is a part of the body of Christ and each of us, as unique individuals, has God given gifts and abilities:
All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages. Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! (1 Corinthians 12:27-30 NLT)
So what’s more important to you: to be chosen for something that you have your heart set upon, or to follow Jesus, no matter where He leads, knowing that you are right where He wants you to be?
Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? (Mark 8:34-37 NLT)
Paul was beaten, whipped, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and finally martyred and yet he rejoiced through it all. Why? Because he knew he was exactly where he was supposed to be, doing exactly what he was supposed to do.
Remember that you will not be judged necessarily according to what you do for the Lord. Rather you will be judged on what you were called to do and whether you grasped it or not.
Our prayer should be: “Lord, help me to be exactly where you want me to be, doing exactly what you want me to do, and give me the grace to rejoice in doing it.”
In reality, everyone who follows the Lord Jesus Christ can never really say that they are ‘not chosen’. They may feel that they were not chosen for what they had their heart set on, but the Lord has chosen them according to His purposes:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (1 Peter 2:9 KJV)
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16 KJV)