|Vol. 15 No. 6 June 2013||
Do you know who Joseph, called Barsabbas was? No? Doesn’t ring a bell? Well then, let me ask you another question. Do you know who Matthias was? Ah, that you know. He was the man selected to replace Judas as an apostle. The other man who was not selected was Joseph, called Barsabbas.
Joseph, called Barsabbas was a man who was a disciple of Jesus. He was a disciple of Jesus from the time of Jesus’ baptism till the day of His Ascension. He therefore was with Jesus through thick and thin. Then, Judas killed himself, and a vacancy for apostleship became open. His name was mentioned as a candidate. Can you imagine his excitement? The honor? The opportunity? The plans that must have run through his head? Then, just like that, he was rejected, and Matthias was selected. His dreams were dashed; his plans were trashed.
So now what? Did he pout? Did he become critical of the very ones he wanted to become a part of, especially Matthias? Did he become disillusioned and stop living for Jesus? I wish I could answer that question for you; however, Scripture is silent about Joseph, called Barsabbas after this event. I want to believe that he took this disappointment in stride and continued to serve Jesus as a faithful disciple, who was at one time honored to even be considered as a possible apostle. Someday, maybe we will get to know “the rest of the story” with respect to Joseph, called Barsabbas.
Now, what about you? What is the “rest of the story” you are writing with your own life? Ever been disappointed? Ever been overlooked? Ever been hurt and rejected? Of course you have; we all have, but how do you plan to deal with it? Quit? Withdraw? Vilify those who hurt you? Or will you continue to be a faithful disciple of Jesus? How will the “rest of the story” be written with respect to your life? Give it some thought.
“Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:9-11 NJKV). I think that maybe one of the saddest lines that comes from the pen under Paul’s inspired authorship is, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” Paul knew how it felt to have people let him down.
After only a short introduction in his letter to the Galatians, he states severe, and I believe painful, words: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7). These brethren, whom he had taught, and whom he loved, were being turned away from the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ and being led into the false conception of Christianity that the Judaizing teachers promulgated.
When Paul listed all of the painful things that had happened to him by the time he wrote 2 Corinthians 11, he included these words: “besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28). He had already stated that he had been in “perils among false brethren.” As long as we live in a world made up of human beings, we are going to be disappointed. We are going to sit with tears in our eyes, wondering how someone we have loved and respected could act like he/she has acted. How could one so strong have fallen into such a trap of sinfulness or neglect? Our hearts will ache, and we may even feel like giving up ourselves. How do we handle these desperate moments? How do we go on, when those around us have forsaken us, loving something about this present world more than they love God?
We must remember that our faith is founded on and found in Jesus Christ and His Father – not in humans. The very best human that we may know is still going to make mistakes. If our trust is in humans, no matter how strong they seem or how greatly we admire them, we have built our Christianity on the wrong foundation.
We must pray for those we know and love who have strayed from the true path. It is our nature to wish that we could just “snatch someone back to their senses!” We do need to make every effort to reach the wayward, but way too often, like with Demas, they become unreachable. All we can do is pray that their hearts will melt within them in the presence of God, and that like the prodigal son, they will come to their senses before it is everlastingly too late.
We must never stop caring about them. Paul loved Demas. His heart was broken, but he did not stop caring about him. We must patiently endure. We must let the wayward know that we love them, while never for a moment intimating that we approve of what they are doing. If we stop loving them, if we stop caring for them and keeping them in our lives – then all hope is forever gone.
We must never forget that we are subject to the same temptations and be ever vigilant. I have seen some over the years who become so disappointed by someone else’s rejection of God, that they in their dejection follow the same path. Our trust is in the Lord. We can love and be encouraged by others, but we can never allow ourselves to forget that the Lord is our Strength and Sustainer.
Finally, we must keep on walking the straight paths, even when it seems all others have turned away. I know that sometimes we can begin to feel like the great prophet Elijah, that we are the only ones, and wonder if life is even worth living anymore. However, we must remember, not only are there the “7,000” who have not bowed the knee to the Baal of this world, but we never walk the steps of this life alone, as long as we walk in step with Jesus. As the song says: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” The refrain continues: “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.” (Text: Edward Mote, 1797-1874. Music: William B. Bradbury, 1816-1868)