Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Whatever Happened to Simon the Zealot? by Chris White

It is a fascinating study to see the diverse kinds of people whom our Lord selected to be part of his apostolic band.  Jesus, it seems, has little interest in ‘cookie-cutter’ ministry leaders and seems to delight in taking people for who they are and using that to further the Kingdom.  The Zealots were a nationalist party in first century Israel that were anxious to end Roman rule and weren’t above using violence to further their cause.  In fact, the Zealots were the undoing of Israel and eventually led to the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and were remembered for their last stand at Masada where they committed mass suicide to avoid capture by the Romans.  But Simon was called to follow Jesus and although he is not a major player in the story of the Gospels, we may rightly assume that at all the great events Simon was present and learning with the rest of the Apostles. 

 Outside the New Testament there is a very strong tradition that he was the apostle to North Africa.  Making this plausible is that North Africa was a Christian stronghold in the 2nd Century which meant this project had to get underway early in the 1st Century.  The 4th Century historian Eusebius claims that Simon also evangelized Persia and Britain and died there as a martyr in AD 60.  The emblem of Simon is a saw because tradition has it that he was sawn in two.  Had he lived through such treatment he would have been the first pastor in history to possess the much-coveted ability to be in two places at once!  However he met his end, if even half of the tradition is true, Simon took his passion for political change and put it into spiritual change. And for that the Kingdom of God is the richer for it.

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