Today begins a series of 12 blog articles on the original 12 Apostles of Jesus. Similar to the Book of Mormon articles, each of these articles will include a little bit of information about one of the Apostles and then some type of application for our own service to God today.
One of the most unheralded Apostles of Jesus is a man named Simon. This particular Simon is distinguished from Simon Peter by being referred to as either Simon the Canaanite (Matthew 10:4, Mark 3:18) or Simon Zelotes (Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13). In this particular case, the title of Canaanite doesn’t mean he was from Canaan (which would have made him a Gentile) but it’s actually a translation of the word “Kananite” which comes from the Hebrew word “qanai” which means “zealous.” The name “Zelotes” also means “zealot,” so this Simon can best be referred to as Simon the Zealot.
Based on this title, it can be inferred that Simon’s background would include being involved as a zealot for various political causes of the day. You can picture him giving fiery speeches, trying to enlist as many people as possible for his causes, perhaps even leading riots against those who opposed his causes.
Clearly, Jesus sees something in this man — his passion, his energy — that He knows will be valuable for the cause of Christ, so He selects Simon to be one of his original Apostles. After being enlisted for the cause of Christ, Simon puts aside his worldly, political causes and becomes a zealot for Jesus Christ.
One of the first things that Simon does as an Apostle (along with the other Apostles) is to go through the cities and towns, preaching “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:5-8). It’s a welcome change to be able to be a zealot for a cause that goes beyond this world and affects people for eternity rather than the various causes of the day that he was previously involved with.
We have the same options available to us today. We can be a zealot for various causes of the day, or we can be a zealot for Jesus. Some might ask — Why do I have to choose? Why can’t I be both? Well, if you understand what it means to be a zealot, it means you put all of your passion and energy into the cause. By definition, if you put all of your passion into one cause, there’s not much left for any other causes.
So, is there anything wrong with supporting a particular political party? Is there anything wrong with supporting an organization that represents a cause that you agree with? The problem with throwing your full support behind any organization — lending your name to it, being a zealot for their cause — is that you are then supporting everything that the organization stands for. This may not be your intention.
For example, while I typically vote for the same party’s candidates in every election, I don’t campaign. Even if I believe that one party’s policies are more aligned with the Word of God, it’s obviously not an exact match — plus their policies are temporal in nature anyway — so I can’t be a zealot in politics.
While I may admire the basic goals of certain organizations, there are many goals they want to accomplish which I as a follower of Christ am staunchly opposed to, so I can’t be a zealot for any of those organizations.
There’s actually only one organization I’ve found that aligns with the Word of God and that matches up with the values I want to associate my name with. Only one organization that I want to be a zealot for. The name of the organization is The Church of Jesus Christ.
Simon the Zealot grew spiritually, advancing from being a zealot for temporal, worldly causes to being a zealot for Jesus Christ. We are already in a position to be zealots for Jesus — should we go backward and become zealots for temporal, worldly causes?
If I’m going to put a sign on my lawn, it’s going to say, “Look to Jesus.” If I’m going to march in a rally, it’s going to be one that encourages people to surrender all to Jesus Christ — the banners will read, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The cause of Christ embodies the best attributes of all other causes — including love for all mankind. Its goals are not temporary in nature, they provide for people throughout eternity. I choose to be a zealot for Jesus. How about you?
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.