There was an event in Junior High School that everyone feared. It took place during gym class. The gym teacher would select two students to be the team captains while all remaining students lined up in a straight line standing shoulder to shoulder across the gym. Everyone knew the next step was the selection of teams and it would be in order of popularity and ability.
This single occurrence could be a make or break event in the life of a Junior High student. If selected first, you could swagger to your team with pride and stand next to your captain with a smug smile. This slow prideful walk reminded everyone that you were first choice. Once the team was in place, everyone would look at the last two kids standing awkwardly alone on the other side of gym. They waited for the next name to be called. The stigma attached to being picked last was catastrophic.
In the Bible, there was someone who may have felt this same kind of awkwardness as he waited for his name to be called. In Acts 1, the 120 had been commissioned to go to the upper room in Jerusalem to wait for the Promise of the Father. This ten-day prayer meeting was interrupted to conduct some church business. For whatever reason, there was an urgency in the hearts of the 11 Apostles to get their number back up to 12. Luke records the minutes of the meeting in Acts 1:21-26.
Acts 1:21-26 (NIV) 21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection." 23 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
I can’t imagine how Matthias felt when the roll of the dice landed on him. I can see the 11 surround him with hugs and congratulatory remarks like, "Welcomes to the team," while Barsabbas sat alone.
Did his heart sink at his lose? Did he feel looked over and passed by? What complicated this is that before they rolled the dice they prayed. Everyone knew that God was part of the process. And God did not choose Barsabbas.
I wish Scripture would have recorded his reaction for us to consider. I wish Luke would have dedicated a few chapters to the events of Barsabbas' life over the next few months. Alas, the Bible is silent concerning his reaction to not being chosen.
I would like to think he responded with confidence that although he was not selected for this particular job, God had something better for him. I can’t believe he was discouraged or became disillusioned with God or those in the fellowship over how things played out.
Why do I believe this? Because church history tells us that he later become the Bishop of Eleutheropolis. This was a highly coveted and influential position in a metropolitan city.
In my own life, when I've been passed over and another's name was called, I have not acted or reacted as graciously as Barsabbas probably did. Still, this story serves as a reminder to all of us that there will be times in life when we are not the first to be chosen. But truth be told, when God is the Team Captain, our names will always be called according to His plan…and that plan will be something better.