Sermon Overview & Prayer: "Back to Twelve"



CJ Mahaney |  Acts 1:12-26  |  4.3.22

These written prayers are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying...All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office.’ And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, 

and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

From Acts 1:12-26

Father, as I read your Word, never let me read any of it casually, quickly, or with over-familiarity. Remind me that all Scripture is breathed out by God, has something to say to me, and ultimately points to Jesus Christ. Thank you for the profound reminders in this passage of your ongoing and unstoppable purposes, and for the power and part that prayer continues to play in those purposes.  Out of a heart of dependence, desire, and devotion, stir me to pray!

Lord, may this portrayal of Peter flood my soul with the assurance of your mercy, forgiveness, and transforming grace – grace that is greater than all my sin. Thank you that your divine plan of salvation for all mankind is unstoppable, as is your divine plan of sanctification for me!

In replacing Judas, we see that this is not a simple matter of a substitute, but rather a matter of fulfilling the most glorious and perfect of all plans – to have a people of your own throughout history, through whom you will send the glorious gospel to the ends of the earth. We bow our hearts in humble adoration and praise when we consider that we are mercifully a part of that fulfillment! Thank you!

Father, we take to heart the example of fervent prayer displayed in this and other passages in the Book of Acts. Help us to intercede with humble faith, confident that the one to whom we pray is infinitely greater than any need for which we pray. Thank you for the humbling reality that we know you today, in part because disciples in the past, prayed that the gospel of the kingdom would go forth to the salvation of many – like us! Bring to mind those in the present for whom we can pray for salvation, as well as those in the future.

Grant to us a spirit of the fear of the Lord, that we might love righteousness and hate iniquity. Alert us with discernment and courage to recognize and resist the deceitfulness of sin. Keep us from the wiles of the world, the flesh, and the devil. May we humbly, and not self-righteously, heed the warning of Judas’ idolatry, betrayal, and apostasy. Help us, through your Word, prayer, and sincere fellowship, to guard our hearts with all vigilance!

Lord, you have shown us that the tragedy of Judas is not outside of your divine plan, nor did it thwart your sovereign purposes. Because you work all things after the counsel of your will, we can trust that even the most perplexing of situations and circumstances have a place in bringing you glory and bringing us good. The world in which we live, with its chaos, wickedness, and tribulation, is under your sovereign and purposeful reign. The cross of Christ – securing our salvation – being the most vivid and wondrous display of that reality.

In this sermon, we observe the crucial role these verses play in connecting the ascension and Pentecost. After gathering in Jerusalem, the first order of business (after praying) was to replace Judas and set the stage for the coming of the Spirit of God. This fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies that Jesus taught the apostles after his resection and before his ascension. This whole scene inspires its readers to patiently persevere in prayer, warns of apostasy, and reminds that God’s plan cannot be thwarted!


  • These verses draw attention to the impact time spent with Jesus before his ascension had on the apostles. As a result, they understood that the death and replacement of Judas fulfilled the prophecies about Jesus. How does Jesus’ post-resurrection instruction for the disciples change the way you read your Bible?
  • J. said that one of the relevant purposes of this passage is to inspire the people of God to pray. How have you been struggling to wait in prayer? How does this teaching inspire you to wait in prayer?
  • There is a warning laden in this passage regarding apostasy. How does this passage cause you to keep watch on your own life?
  • Judas’ desolation can be an encouragement for the believer: a man cannot thwart the plans of God. Reflect on the fact that Jesus’ betrayal by Judas brought about redemption for all who put their faith in the Christ. How does this truth strengthen you amid a present trial?
  • There is a steady stream of conversions from the early church to today. How does this motivate you towards evangelism locally or globally?