After Jesus’ ascension to Heaven, the eleven apostles assumed bearing leadership responsibility. Humanly speaking, this required immediate accountability on crucial matters, assuming Jesus had no longer been available. But Jesus had been as present as before His ascension, although not observed physically. Understandably, those disciples were as limited as anyone accustomed to the physical universe. Nevertheless, Jesus had informed them of what would happen after His departure. His Spiritual communication could not be comprehended by physical humans before they had received the Holy Spirit.
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:14-21 KJV).
The reality of Jesus’ words was accomplished during the Pentecostal phenomenon, as highlighted in Acts 2. Jesus had asserted His presence, without leaving them as orphans, after His ascending. As outlined above, that message did not make sense to those disciples. They could not comprehend spiritual matters, which were not exclusive to those original disciples. They were instructed to wait for the Holy Spirit that would direct them on matters of Christianity.
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about” (Acts 1:4 KJV).
Their physical limitations caused them to fail to understand. Rather than wait, they suggested an apparent noble idea, but misguided. Jesus had unequivocally instructed them to abide by His words. The idea of waiting did not appeal to them, as still engulfed in fallibility.
The Holy Spirit had been intended to direct their Spiritual conduct. In their physical condition, they could not communicate with God, hence discarding Jesus’ words. The appointment of an additional apostle appeared noble. But how did this reconcile with Jesus’ calling, in the first place?
Peter assumed the leadership role, thereby suggesting that Judas Iscariot needed a replacement. This culminated in Matthias’ appointment, leading to his ordination as an apostle. They were not guided by the Holy Spirit, at that time. Neither had Jesus commanded them to cast lots.
Their collective decision, through Peter’s leadership, was not sanctioned by Jesus. Peter’s assumption of leadership was, probably, based on Jesus’ insinuation (Matthew 16:17-18). However, Jesus had specifically said His Church would be established through Peter’s understanding (Matthew16:13-20). This is different from using Peter’s physical capacity.
The rock inferred by Jesus was in Peter’s understanding, unattached to physical humans. Peter could not be responsible for building that Church. Jesus had enunciated the issue of Church leadership (Matthew 23:8-12). If Jesus would use Peter, it would be as Jesus could use anyone. The evaluation of those used was never accorded to physical humans.
None of the apostles, including Peter, had submitted their credentials, for selection consideration. Peter’s limitations had manifested even during Jesus’ presence. Immediately after being commended for accurately identifying Jesus, Peter’s humanity manifested; inviting Jesus’ rebuke: “Get behind me, Satan: you are a stumbling block to me: you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23 NIV).
The significant point is to appreciate that, on Godly things, it is unnecessary to focus on human frailties. Of significance is forgiving one another, as Christ forgave us. In this regard, our focus should never be on Peter’s frailties, but on what Jesus said. Throughout the ages, the problem of Christianity has been associated with failure to appreciate this reality.
Human leaders are deified ahead of Jesus. Ordinary humans instinctively, glorify human leaders, ahead of Christ. When Peter suggested the appointment of the twelfth apostle, his colleagues agreed with him. There were no dissenting voices, as everyone perceived insecurity without a physical leader.
This is why individual ideas are the ones that sustain human civilizations, rather than group agreements. The validation of group agreements carries human approval, as opposed to God’s approval. The conduct of the apostles should not, necessarily, be viewed as blameworthy.
Nevertheless, Matthias, as an additional apostle, was not appointed by Jesus, responsible for appointing apostles. Jesus had not instructed them to appoint additional apostles, where necessary. He had assured them of not leaving them as orphans. This suggests that Jesus was as present as before His ascension.
The idea of casting lots had not been recommended by Jesus. Neither had Jesus validated group agreements, through democratic processes. Any group could come up with the noblest ideas, without Jesus’ approval. Interestingly, while Christianity is divided into various denominations, the ones that survive longer are those founded by individuals.