The Expository Files

Whatever Happened to Justus?

[ From The Editors: This article is the ninth in a series we will publish this year, calling attention to twelve people who though being dead, instruct us (Heb. 11:4). They speak to us through the testimony of their lives as written in Scripture. Over the next few months, we will develop a theme title. And, near the end of the year we are planning to publish these twelve articles in book form (Kindle, Nook and old fashioned print and ink). These passages and people can equip us and motivate us toward greater service to our Lord.]

The Justus family readied themselves for worship with the assembly of brethren. Dad was obviously anxious. His wife fussed over him, asking him if he needed any help with clothing selection. The children were excited, sensing that some kind of special honor might be bestowed on their father that day. Their dad would perhaps become an Apostle, joining the renowned Peter, James, John and others. What an opportunity for him, and a blessing for them. He would be recognized for his many years of service to their Lord Jesus. Justus was one of the earliest believers in Jesus and did not abandon Him when the crowds turned against him. Finally he would receive proper appreciation for his loyalty.

But on that day, someone else was chosen. Justus was rejected. Whatever happened to Justus?

The details of this story, as Iíve related it, cannot be known. The actual story is told in 4 brief sentences. We cannot know whether Justus, also known as Barsabbas, had a family, or even knew in advance that lots were going to be cast to determine a replacement for Judas. But there are some valuable lessons we can learn from this event.

The facts are these.

First, there were two men chosen as candidates, and only two. They were selected by the congregation, which Peter commissioned to select the candidates. These two men were known, respected and met the strenuous requirements of the post. Evidently no one else among the group met these stipulations.

Second, the selection was open, public and immediate. There was no back room manipulation, no gathering of supporters, no discussion of the relative merits of Justus and Matthias.

This story raises several questions. Why didnít God just name the replacement? It is obvious that He is in the casting of lots, but why did God involve the congregation in the process at all if He made the final choice? Or, since the Apostles would be the ones who would work and share life with them, why didnít they make the selection themselves?

Justus was denied the position. And that in itself is not a terrible shock, but he was rejected by God. Not by the congregation, not be the Apostles, but by Godís management of the lots. It is one thing to have men overlook us for an honor Ė we can console ourselves by saying they are only human and made a mistake. But God doesnít make those errors of judgment. For all of his qualifications, and they are many and significant, Justus didnít pass muster. Never again would his name be mentioned in the scriptures.

You may be wondering what the point of this message is. It is this.

Justus is Just US. He is you and me. He is everyone who is turned down, turned out and turned away. He is every aspiring elder, deacon, Bible class teacher, song leader, preacher and volunteer in the kingdom. He is the perpetual also-ran, the eager raised hand that isnít recognized, the suggestion that is ignored.
And I wonder so often how he dealt with his ďlossĒ. Was he embarrassed? Did he leave and go to another church, hurt and licking his wounds? Was he bitter? Did he find solace in the words of his supporters who whispered that he was robbed? Did he bravely smile, congratulate Matthias and take his seat at the back of the room? Did he pray regularly for Matthias? Was he gracious in defeat? Did he bounce back? Take a ďlesserĒ position later? Quietly continue to serve Christ and Christians?

I Corinthians 12:27-31 is comfort for every Justus among us. Not all can be apostles, or workers of the gifts of the Spirit, but all are members of the same body, and all have a valuable function.

Justus and his family left that assembly that day with some disappointment to be sure. Did his wife wipe tears from her eyes? Did Justus mask his hurt? Were the children quiet, worried about how others felt about their father? Did they offer prayers asking for other ways to serve?

What did happen to Justus? The answer matters to us, because the answer lies within us.

By Ralph Walker
From Expository Files 19.9; September 2012