"The Eleven" to be exact (Luke 24:9; Luke 24:33; Acts 1:26).
That's how the apostles were known the seven weeks after Jesus' death. It was not a title of respect. Instead, it was a reminder. More than a scar, this title was a gaping wound, hemorrhaging memories of betrayal, denial, and abandonment. "The Eleven" was most of all a reminder of Judas. Judas was one of them. Judas had shared in their ministry, their table fellowship, and the work of Jesus (Acts 1:16-17). Judas had betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48).
If we are honest, most of us have had our own personal Judas — someone close to us, who knew us well and knew how to hurt us deeply. And they did hurt us deeply, leaving us broken, devastated, and not sure we even wanted to go on living. Then every time we turned around, there was a song, a scene in a movie, a joke on TV, the voice of someone who reminded us of the betrayal, and the hurt came flooding back.
Yes, we know what eleven means. It means less than whole. It means life with a hole. It means the pain of trying to trust and not knowing whom we can trust and even less how we can trust. It is the suffocating reality that seems inescapable.
An old saying goes something like this: "To live above with saints we love, now that will be glory. But to live below with saints we know, ah, that's another story." People are the most precious gifts in our lives, but they can also break us in ways and in places that seem incurable.
That's why it is so important that we see what Jesus does with "The Eleven" before Pentecost happens. He heals the wound. And he does it with Peter: the one who also failed miserably — the one who Jesus warned and then promised would be used to help the others (Luke 22:31-32). Yes, Jesus had confronted him on the beach after his resurrection and called him back to ministry and restored him to leadership (John 21:1-17).
So Peter is the one whom the Lord uses to lead his small band of followers to do three things that are important to help them overcome their "Judas hole" and restore "The Twelve" so they can begin the work of building the unshakeable Kingdom.
First, they admit their hurt and tell their story, not trying to avoid the truth that it was one of them who had betrayed the Master (Acts 1:15-20).
Then, they open themselves up to others — they invite another back into their number to mend the hole left by Judas (Acts 1:21-23).
Most importantly, they ask for God's guidance and help to show them how to move forward and who to include in their number (Acts 1:24-26).
Now this is not a formula, so let's not reduce it to that. However, it's a powerful example of how we can move forward in the face of deep, grievous, and personal wounds and find our way to God's powerful future. Their example is also an important reminder that we can be better after we've been broken if we allow God to do the mending. God doesn't want us to retreat from life or from church family when we've been betrayed. Instead, he wants to heal us and remind us:
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).