Simon knew talent. Simon was brave. Simon loved his nation.
Simon did not say much, but Simon followed Jesus.
This Easter Simon the Zealot has been on my mind. He was a follower of Jesus easy to forget, because we only know his name and political point of view. Simon wanted freedom for his people crushed by Roman tyranny.
When he saw Jesus, Simon heard a call and followed. With the other disciples, he seems to have lived in the constant expectation that at any moment Jesus would restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus kept disappointing them with cryptic statements.
Palm Sunday must have thrilled Simon, because at last Jesus rode into Jerusalem as king. The crowd rejoiced and then Jesus cleaned out the Temple from the crooks that had set up shop in that holy place. We know Peter, the leader of the gang, had a sword and I cannot help suspecting that Simon had the other.
Simon was zealous for his people and for God.
Jesus must have been hard to understand. He claimed the Kingdom of Heaven was now, but then refused to do practical things to make it happen. It was “within” and Simon wanted it “without.” Jesus spoke of a better age to come, but seemed to do nothing to make it happen.
Simon was zealous to change the outer state of his people, but Jesus was playing a deeper political game. Jesus wanted new men and only from these men would the King form a new nation.
Simon wanted Jesus to kill Romans, but Jesus wanted to transform them. Simon wanted Jesus to bring justice, but Jesus was going to make men just. If Jesus had been just another rabbi, his goals would have been fine, but impractical, but Jesus was God as well as man. It is hard to blame Simon for his mistake. Usually someone like Jesus would have been one of these folk too good to help real people, too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.
Jesus was minded to bring heaven and earth into union. Simon the Zealot was following the one King in history that did not need to claim His crown. His very being was greater than any Kingdom.
God doesn’t do political games, because He is and every other role depends on Him.
Simon must have thought that Passover would mark the start of the inner reality becoming an outer one. He was right and his zeal would prove useful, but he was wrong about the Kingdom. Jesus was not satisfied with freedom for Israel, He wanted freedom for the whole earth. He was not just knocking down the Roman Empire, but every Empire that would not submit to His rule.
Jesus was after Hell and not just hellish rulers. His zeal for conquering death and Satan made Simon look cowardly and weak. Simon wanted to defeat Emperor Tiberius, but Jesus was after Death, Hell, and the Devil. When the test came, Simon ran like everyone else. Zeal cools fast in defeat.
Jesus was braver, his zeal hotter, and He plunged all the way to Hell to rescue his people.
Sometime on Easter morning, Simon must have understood. Tradition suggests he preached the gospel from Egypt to Persia and gave his life for Jesus. His zeal had finally found the Kingdom worthy of death, because martyrdom brought eternal life.
May I like Simon be a subject to King Jesus this Easter.