Where's the Justus
By Brenda Black
Quickly! Name the winner of Britain's Got Talent in 2009... If you guessed Susan Boyle, you'd be wrong. She was runner up. But Boyle was catapulted into infamy not only for her haunting, ethereal voice and penchant for timeless music selections, she broke records as well as performed on them. The Guinness World Records cemented her status as one of music's biggest singing sensations with three titles: Fastest-selling Album by a Female (UK), Most Successful First Week UK Debut Album Sale, as well as Oldest Artist to Reach No.1 with a Debut Album (US & UK). In just 21 days, she sold more than a million copies of “I Dreamed a Dream.”
I'd venture to say that you could name faster the vice presidential candidate who lost in the 2008 election before you could name the VP currently in office. And you are sure to recognize one of the greatest names in golf, Jack Nicklaus. But did you know that 19 times he ended up in second place in championship play.
Now – tell me the name of the runner up disciple to take the place of Judas Iscariot after his treacherous betrayal and death. I'm waiting. Still waiting. If you are having trouble with his name, maybe it's because he had three - “Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus)...” (Acts 1:23b)
Before you write off Justus as the first loser in the contest, keep in mind that he was selected as one of two noble contenders from at least 70 devoted men for the honor and was one who walked with Christ and knew him as Lord and Savior. Luke recounts the criteria for nomination: “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, 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.” (Acts 1:21-22)
Joseph Barsabbas knew the Lord and the Lord knew him. He didn't bear the name Justus without reason either. Some have suggested that the name was given to people in adult life because of their righteousness. For example, The Anchor Bible Dictionary (p. 1134) discusses the name "Justus" and writes, "This epithet, implying obedience and devotion to the Jewish Law, was perhaps given to him (Joseph-Barsabbas) by other Jews." Justus was eligible, he was loyal, he was available, he was honorable.
So why wasn't Justus appointed as one of the twelve? Because God called Matthias. The results were not produced by men, but born of God who “knows everyone's heart.” When the apostles prayed, “Lord, show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry...” God delivered an answer. Without God's confirmation, the appointed man would most certainly fail.
“The great thing the apostles were to attest to the world, was Christ's resurrection; for that was the great proof of his being the Messiah, and the foundation of our hope in him. The apostles were ordained, not to worldly dignity and dominion, but to preach Christ, and the power of his resurrection. An appeal was made to God... It is fit that God should choose his own servants; and so far as he, by the disposals of his providence, or the gifts of his Spirit, shows whom he has chosen.” (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible)
Losing a talent contest provided Boyle the opportunity for worldwide fame. Losing an election launched international status and 2,257,946 facebook friends for Palin. Losing his signature game for nearly 20 years still rendered Nicklaus the beloved "Golden Bear". If this is possible, then I have no doubt that Justus made a difference in spite of his non-appointment. It is completely probable that this second fiddle apostle with a noble heart positively impacted the world!
Where's the justice? It is written on the faces of the widows no longer forgotten when deacons were appointed to care for their needs in the early church while the apostles devoted themselves to teaching the Word. It is written in the pages of history where believers went out two by two and spread the gospel to every nation.
Not only those preferred by humanity accomplish greatness, it is also the ones who come in second. Just ask Susan Boyle or look up Justus when you get to heaven.