And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: …and Simon called the Zealot… (Luke 6:13,15)
Simon the Zealot, also called Simon the Canaanite, was one of the twelve Apostles that the Bible says almost nothing about. So how are we gonna learn anything about discipleship from his life? I’ll admit, this might be a short one, but there’s one thing in particular that we as the Church (especially those of us in America) need to take notes on…very closely.
Simon is probably called “the Zealot/Canaanite” to distinguish him from Simon Peter, the leader of the Twelve. The first-century Zealots were a party of Jewish nationalists in Judea who passionately despised Roman rule over Israel, and pushed for aggressive (and sometimes violent) revolt against Rome. They were known as agitators and reckless people, who believed in a Mosaic theocracy, with the Lord as their only Ruler; they were revolutionaries who desired liberty and freedom through force. This title tells us a lot about Simon already, and makes it all the more shocking that the Lord Jesus would choose a man like this to be one of His disciples, considering Jesus repeatedly denounced bringing the kingdom of God this way.
But, the greatest lesson we can learn from the apostle Simon is that he was in the same group as Matthew, the tax collector. Why is this significant? Because being a tax collector meant Matthew worked for the Roman government! Not only did most Jews dislike and marginalize them in general, but Zealots would have considered them just as much the enemy as Rome. Although they were from extreme opposite ends of the political spectrum, their shared love for Jesus (and His love for both of them) made them brothers in Christ, and Apostles on the same team, working towards the same mission!
Do you guys see where I’m going with this? Let me make sure I make this next statement crystal clear. Ahem. Your political views and stances take the backseat to the Kingdom and Gospel of Jesus Christ!! We are not liberal or conservative first, but followers of Christ first. Most “Christians” today care more about the social and political stances of others more than the condition of their hearts, or those of others! If Jesus called a man who worked for the Romans and a man who passionately hated the Romans to have loving fellowship with one another and witness to the Gospel together in Him, what does that say about the divided Church today?
We should be involved and active in the world as ambassadors of Christ, and we’re even allowed to agree to disagree on the non-essential things, but when it comes to the Kingdom of God, and our obligation to our Father and Lord, we are to be completely united in love! False teaching, misinterpretation, pride, and lovelessness are all factors in this, so we must pray for the wisdom and strength to mirror the Twelve: diverse, yet unified in Christ.