Saturday, April 20th, 2024

Tolerance and Passion

1 Peter 5:5-10Simon the Zealot

Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

What do we know about Simon the Zealot?
It was a common name:
  • Jesus brother's was named Simon,
  • Judas was the son of Simon Iscariot,
  • The man who carried the cross for Jesus his name was Simon,
  • The man who owned the house where Peter was called to the gentiles (where the sheet full of unclean animals was lowered during a dream) was named Simon
Luke 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
Luke 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
Luke 6:14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,
Luke 6:15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,
Luke 6:16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.

Isn't it amazing that Jesus prayed all night (Luke 6:12) and then sent the disciples out two by two? He probably prayed a lot about who to send with who.

Mark 3:13 And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him.
Mark 3:14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,
Mark 3:15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:
Mark 3:16 And Simon he surnamed Peter;
Mark 3:17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:
Mark 3:18 And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite,
Mark 3:19 And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.

In this section (and Matthew 10:4)Simon the Zealot is linked with Judas Iscariot

Matthew 10:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
Matthew 10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
Matthew 10:3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
Matthew 10:4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
Matthew 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent forth,

Again Simon (here called the Canaanite) is linked with Judas Iscariot. The Greek language is clear on this point also: they were sent out two by two.

What do we know about him?
Simon the Zealot was probably sent out with Judas Iscariot! (see Gill on Matthew 10:4)

What was that like?

We know Judas was stealing
Did Judas character come out, was it apparent to the others? Especially during the time they were sent out two by two? You would think that during that time the two people together would get to know each other pretty well. Did Simon the Zealot have suspicions that Judas would turn against Jesus?
And what did Simon the Zealot and Judas talk about as they went from town to town?

It is strange that Judas father's name was Simon and that the founder of the Zealots name was Judas. That is confusing - but God may have had a reason for these names.

We also know Simon was a Zealot.

What do we know about the Zealots?
  • They were a political party or movement,
  • They were patriots (similar even to those who refer to themselves as "Patriots" currently in America) 
  • They were Pharisees who strongly wanted independence.

We know Simon was passionate about his politics and he must not have lost those passions when he followed Jesus because he is referred to as a Zealot. He is not refered to as as son of someone, or a brother of someone or even referred to as the area he came from. Jesus could have changed his name like he did Peter's name.

The name "Simon" means: hearing with acceptance. That is a strange name for Simon, because he did not accept Roman rule. And Roman rule affected every aspect of Jewish life. He was not about acceptance, he was about rebelling. Passionate rebelling.

Simon the Zealot was passionate about his politics.
People with passion have enthusiasm and energy. They have purpose and direction. They think they know what should be done, And usually we don't. They are easy to follow. That type of passion and direction makes a good leader.
My boss does that. He can come up with a good idea, get people excited about it and they all want to follow him and do the new idea.

Passion, is it good or bad? It is both, or neither. Our passions can distract us towards or away from Jesus.

You can be passionate about evangelism - that's good.
You can plan an evangelism outreach without passion or with passion.
You can be passionate about incorrect teachings or bad doctrines, that's bad.
Or you can be passionate about baseball, that is neither good or bad.

Simon the Zealot's passion, was it good or bad?
Jesus prayed all night and chose Simon the Zealot to be a disciple and Matthew the tax collector to be a disciple?
They were complete opposites.

What were they both thinking when Jesus called out the names of his 12? (kind of like calling names for a team)
Both probably thought "oh no, not him". Matthew would have thought Simon was a "trouble making radical". Simon would have thought Matthew was a "scumbag sell-out".

The rest of the 12 thought "what is He doing? These two are going to be fighting all the time". For 'team unity' this was not the best choice.
Team harmony is important, they teach you that in all kinds of management courses. You need to have team unity, the team needs to get along.

So now Simon is part of the team, but based on the name they gave him he must have kept his politics.
Simon's passion was politics. He believed, like the Pharisees, that the Messiah would be a political king that would free them from the Romans. He felt strongly that Israel should be free of Roman domination. So when Simon found the Messiah he must have thought the time was near.

Imagine what Simon the Zealot thought when the Pharisees questioned Jesus on taxes. (note: the Zealot party started in revolt against paying taxes to Rome).

Simon was probably thinking: ""Yes, now is the time, come on Jesus be the Messiah, let's kick some Roman butts, tell them No Taxes"."

Jesus said:
Matthew 22:21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.

But then Jesus sent Simon the Zealot out with Judas Iscariot. Do you think Jesus didn't know these two guys characters? He had the time with them, and he spent all that time in prayer before sending them out.

There is a theory that Judas turned in Jesus to those who wanted to kill Jesus in order to 'force his hand' into taking control then, to starting the revolution. That is one of the reasons the apostles were so confused so much of the time, by the things Jesus was telling them, they kept thinking Jesus was going to free them from Rome. Of all the apostles, the one person that would have believed that the most and would have wanted it the most, was Simon the Zealot.

And Simon spent all that one-on-one time with Judas when Jesus sent them out.

It is impossible for me to believe that when Simon and Judas went out they did not discuss politics. Simon was passionate about his politics, people talk about what they are passionate about.

Did Simon influence Judas?
Did hearing about how Israel should be free from Rome,
about how the Messiah should be an earthly king, influence Judas?

Passion can be a good thing.
It inspires us to do great things.
It inspires us to get involved in great things.

It can also lead us astray.
It is just like all the other character traits, under the control of the Holy Spirit stubbornness becomes perseverance.

Another interesting note is how the Zealot movement ties in with Jesus.

How did the Zealot movement get started?

In the book ""Antiquities of the Jews"," Josephus says the Roman governor Cyrenius wanted to impose a new tax and "Judas the Galilean" protested. That was the beginning of the Zealot movement.

That is the reason Jesus was born in Bethlehem:
Luke 2:1 And it happened in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
Luke 2:2 (This taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
Luke 2:3 And all went to be registered, each to his own city.
Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee to be taxed (out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David).
Luke 2:5 And he took Mary his betrothed wife, being with child.

So the Zealot movement began at the same time Jesus was born.

How did the Zealot movement end?

In the book ""Wars of the Jews"" Josephus says that the Zealots were bad men and raiders who started a revolution that ended in the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem.

Like Jesus predicted.

So the Zealot party began at the birth of Jesus and ended at the destruction of the temple.

The man who started the Zealot movement is actually mentioned in the Bible.
Gamaliel says in Act 5:37 "After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed."
(note: they were not gone, Simon was part of this Zealot party and in 70 AD the Zealots' actions would bring about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple)

Gamaliel was wrong, the Zealot party may have been dispersed, but they were not gone. This reminds me of:
John 7:50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
Joh 7:51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?
Joh 7:52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.
This is the section where the Pharisees said there were no prophets from Galilee. But Jonah and Nahum were both from Galilee, Elijah, Elisha and Amos also might have been from Galilee.

If is funny that the Pharisees and Sauducees, the guys who supposedly took their religion so seriously could be so wrong about things.

In closing let's look at tolerance and passion.

Matthew the tax collector.
Sometimes God is going to put you together with people you have a completely opposite life view from.

Matthew the "sell-out scumbag" (Simon's opinion) and Simon the "illogical trouble maker" (Matthew's opinion) on the same team. God picked them both.
For reasons we will never know. But they were on the same team.

Let's remember Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot, let's remember those we minister with that have different opinions than we do, God brought us together for a purpose, so let's be tolerant of each other.

Simon the Zealot.
Jesus saw the passion in him and wanted to use it for the good.

What are the things we are passionate about?
Some of us are not passionate about anything, and we need to be passionate about something.
Are we drawing people away by our passions?
Not drawing them into sin, probably.
Simon the Zealot probably didn't draw anyone away into sin.
But drawing people away from what they should be focused on.

Passion is good. It is energizing, motivating and produces many good works.
But are our passions like that of Simon's?
Drawing other's into an area that does not help them? Does not lead them to Jesus?

What a shame to be passionate about something that doesn't really matter.

So let the Holy Spirit make us passionate about the things God is passionate about.

Back to top