It is part of our human nature to hate rejection. That feeling tends to be carried over into Christian ministry also. Who of us was ever initially overjoyed when we were passed over for an opportunity to serve in an area we set our hopes on in ministry? Yet, some time after being rejected, if we remained faithful to the Lord we most likely found out it was because God had something different in mind for us. That’s how it probably was for Judas, or Justus, Barsabas in Acts. Who was that, you ask? He was the guy who didn’t get chosen to be the one to take Judas Iscariot’s place as the 12th disciple.
Even though Judas Barsabas was like Matthias in that he was with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry, Judas didn’t get what he hoped for. He could have easily gotten upset enough to leave the group, but we find out later on that Barsabas was so in love with Christ and the apostles that he was someone they depended on at a crucial time. After Acts 1, we hear nothing about Judas Barsabas until years later in Acts 15 when a serious issue arose in the church at Antioch, Syria, that Paul and Barnabas had to confront.
Some fake brethren infiltrated the church and taught that salvation is by fulfilling the works of the law, especially circumcision. Paul and Barnabas had such a heated argument with them over it that everyone at Antioch decided to consult the church at Jerusalem and abide by whatever they decided. Peter, James, and the other apostles listened to the arguments and decided to stand by what the Holy Spirit taught them. Mosaic law was not compatible with salvation by grace through faith for both Jew and Gentile.
Judas Barsabas, along with Silas, was “chief…among the brethren” (Acts 15:22). He had a prominent leadership role and was sent with Silas to relay the apostles’ message in writing to the church at Antioch. Not only did he relay the apostles’ vital message, but he and Silas were known to be prophets (Acts 15:32) and prophesied many more words of encouragement to Antioch as they remained there for an extended period (most likely to make sure the Judaizers and their false doctrines were driven out). Judas then returned to Jerusalem to continue his ministry with the apostles (Acts 15:33).
Judas was definite proof that if we render faithful, loving service to the Lord for our fellow Christians even in the midst of disappointment, the Lord will be faithful in presenting us with other opportunities that are just as important.