How Simon the Zealot Was Called By Jesus
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How Simon the Zealot Was Called By Jesus

You open your Bible, running your fingers over the worn leather cover. Today, you feel called to study the life of Simon the Zealot. As one of the twelve disciples, his story provides invaluable insights into what it meant to follow Jesus.

Though less is written about him compared to disciples like Peter or John, Simon’s calling still speaks volumes.

Simon’s Background

Simon was known as “the Zealot” – a political designation that revealed much about his background. The Zealots were a Jewish sect opposed to Roman rule over Israel. They sought to incite rebellion and believed political liberation was necessary before the Messiah could come.

Simon grew up hating the Romans who occupied his homeland. He likely participated in violent uprisings meant to destabilize and drive out the encroaching empire. As a Zealot, Simon cherished Jewish independence and longed to see the Romans overthrown.

But when Jesus called Simon to follow Him, these political aspirations collided with Christ’s kingdom. Jesus was not interested in an earthly revolution – His concerns were eternal, not temporary. Still, Jesus looked into Simon’s fiery heart and called him anyway.

An Unlikely Choice

To understand the power of Simon’s calling, you must appreciate how surprising it was that Jesus wanted him as a disciple. Zealots like Simon focused on earthly politics, but Jesus’ kingdom was heavenly. In calling Simon, Jesus made it clear that He was not intimidated by this disciple’s past.

Simon had righteous zeal, but needed to refine it for God’s purposes. Jesus invited him into a better kingdom – one ruled by love and service rather than hatred and violence. Just as Jesus called Matthew the tax collector, He saw past Simon’s troubling background to the potential within.

This would have shocked Simon’s contemporaries. A patriotic Zealot joining a rabbi who said to “love your enemies” and “turn the other cheek”? Unfathomable. But Jesus’ call demanded that Simon lay down his earthly agendas. The Lord wanted to channel Simon’s passion toward an eternal kingdom.

##Answering the Call

What did Simon’s calling require? First, repentance. He had to surrender his divisive political goals. Jesus’ message of grace and truth stood above human loyalties.

Simon also needed humility. As a Zealot, he was committed to a fiery independence at all costs. But Jesus’ kingdom required interdependence, service, and sacrifice. Simon had to abandon stubborn self-reliance to become the disciple Christ envisioned.

Still, Jesus called Simon knowing that this disciple could uniquely testify to God’s power to redeem anyone. His presence among the Twelve showed Jesus’ commitment to saving society’s outcasts. To Simon, it proved that no one was beyond the Savior’s transformative reach.

A New Purpose

After following Jesus, Simon experienced a profound recalibration of purpose. Jesus redirected Simon’s zeal away from politics and toward His eternal aims. Simon’s passion found its proper target – furthering God’s kingdom instead of his own nationalist goals.

This must have been freeing for Simon! His zeal no longer fed empty causes – instead, he could wholly devote himself to Jesus’ mission. Simon’s enthusiasm was purified, his loyalty transferred to Christ alone. No human agenda could satisfy like building God’s kingdom.

Of course, this was costly for Simon. He had to surrender the independence he fought for as a Zealot. But Jesus replaced Simon’s old purpose with something far better – an eternal hope and brotherhood united around Christ alone. This calling outshone any earthly allegiance.

A Lasting Impact

Though Scripture gives fewer details about Simon compared to other disciples, his influence was profound. After Pentecost, he likely proclaimed the gospel across Judea, Samaria, and beyond. Early church tradition suggests he preached in Britain, modern-day Iraq, and Persia.

One account states that Simon traveled to Britain in A.D. 61 and contributed to the founding of the Christian church there before suffering martyrdom. Other reports claim he was sawn in half while preaching in Persia. However he died, Simon zealously served his Lord.

Simon’s calling illustrates that God uses anyone – even unlikely candidates. Other Zealots sought earthly liberation, but Jesus repurposed Simon’s passion for a heavenly kingdom. This transformed Simon from rebel to preacher, from extremist to evangelist.

Above all, Simon’s life shows that Jesus redeems anyone who follows Him. God can redirect our gifts and transform our worst traits. Even a dangerous zealot can become an agent of gospel peace. What matters most is answering Christ’s call.

Reflecting on Simon’s Calling

As you reflect on Simon’s calling, ponder the following:

  • Are you willing to surrender any agenda that competes with God’s kingdom? Simon’s calling required laying down his political activism. What must you abandon to follow Jesus?
  • Do you need to refine your zeal like Simon? Is your passion misdirected toward empty causes rather than God’s eternal purposes? Ask God to purify your enthusiasm.
  • How has Christ called you to channel your gifts and talents for His glory? Even your worst traits can be redeemed in service to Him.
  • Do you sometimes feel disqualified from God’s kingdom? Remember that Jesus calls unlikely people. Trust that His grace can use you.

Simon’s calling is a testament to Jesus’ power to transform lives. The Savior who redirected a zealot’s passion can also work within you. Will you, like Simon, answer His call? The divine purpose that changed Simon can change you too.

Key Takeaways on Simon’s Calling:

  • Simon the Zealot had a political background that seemed at odds with Jesus’ apolitical message. Still, Jesus called him to be a disciple.
  • Jesus saw past Simon’s troubling history as a revolutionary Zealot. He called Simon to abandon violence and follow Him.
  • Answering Jesus’ call required repentance and humility from Simon. He had to surrender his earthly political agenda.
  • As a disciple, Simon’s zeal was redirected away from politics and toward Christ’s kingdom. He found new purpose in Jesus.
  • Simon became an influential early church leader, traveling widely to preach the gospel. His calling shows Christ redeems anyone.

Closing Thoughts

As we’ve seen, Simon Peter’s calling provides valuable insights about discipleship. His transformation from Zealot to apostle reminds us that Jesus redeems anyone – even the unlikely. When He calls, we must surrender competing agendas and serve His kingdom wholeheartedly, as Simon did.

May Simon’s passion for God’s glory inspire us today! Let us follow Christ with a zeal refined and redirected solely toward His eternal purposes. There is no greater calling than to seek first His kingdom. When we answer Jesus’ call, like Simon, we discover the joy of pursuing heavenly aims rather than earthly ones. Our true purpose is found in serving our Savior.

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.