#5 (The 12 Disciples Series)
"SIMON – THE FREEDOM FIGHTER!"
TEXTS: Lk. 6:15; Acts 1:12-14; 21:37-22:9 Mark 15:7
INTRO: Zeal is a powerful thing; it has driven people to do things that are extraordinary! However, zeal can be either good or bad, it can drive people to do heroic things and it can drive fanatics and terrorists to do evil things! The world has always had its zealots, both good and bad ones.
It is good to be a zealot for Jesus as long as we understand the dynamics of being "zealous" for the Lord. Zeal must not be blind or without love for the right things, or guided without godly wisdom.
ILLUS: LIKE THE FATHER WHO WAS SENDING HIS SON OFF TO A LIBERAL SEMINARY TO STUDY FOR THE MINISTRY. TO CAUTION HIS SON AGAINST LOSING FAITH IN THE BIBLE HE WARNED HIS SON AGAINST THE UNBELIEVING PROFESSORS BY TELLING HIM, “DON'T LET THEM TAKE JONAH AWAY FROM YOU,” FIGURING THE “SWALLOWED-BY-A-GREAI-FISH” STORY MIGHT BE THE FIRST PART OF THE BIBLE TO GO. TWO YEARS LATER WHEN HIS SON RETURNED THE FIRST QUESTION THE DAD ASKED HIS SON WAS, “DO YOU STILL HAVE JONAH IN YOUR BIBLE?” THE SON LAUGHED ... “JONAH! THAT STORY ISN'T EVEN IN YOUR BIBLE DAD!” THE FATHER SHOCKED AT HIS SON REPLIED, “IT CERTAINLY IS! WHAT DO YOU MEAN SON?” AGAIN THE SON LAUGHED AND INSISTED, “IT'S NOT IN YOUR BIBLE, GO AHEAD, SHOW IT TO ME!” THE OLD MAN FUMBLED THROUGH HIS BIBLE LOOKING FOR THE BOOK OF JONAH BUT HE COULDN'T FIND IT! AT LAST HE CHECKED THE INDEX AND TURNED TO WHERE THE 3 PAGES WERE SUPPOSE TO BE, BUT THEY WERE NOT THERE, THEY HAD BEEN CUT OUT! HIS SON THEN ADDED, “I CUT THE BOOK OF JONAH OUT OF YOUR BIBLE DAD JUST BEFORE I LEFT 2 YEARS AGO FOR SEMINARY, WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE IF I LOST THE BOOK OF JONAH THROUGH STUDYING UNDER NON-BELIEVERS OR YOU LOSE IT THROUGH NEGLECT!” THE FATHER HAD BEEN SO ZEALOUS THAT HIS SON NOT NEGLECT GOD'S WORD YET HIS OWN ZEAL FOR GOD’S WORD HAD NOT BEEN PRACTICED! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
Those who came to North America after it was discovered were all very zealous people, many for religious freedom, but for some to make real fortunes! Some looked for the fountain of youth in Florida; others looked for land to raise a family on. We admire those whose zeal was aimed for the betterment of humanity and we loathe those who had zeal for personal gain and selfish ambition! We tend to praise those with the right kind of zeal and punish those with the wrong kind.
PROP. SENT: Some of the finest followers of Christ are those who are zealous by nature and have aimed that zeal in the right direction, toward Christ and in the service of others! Jesus loved Simon the Zealot! He still calls zealots!
I. FANATICAL COMMITMENT! Acts 21:37-22:9 Mark 15:7
A. Misguided Enthusiasm Acts 21:37-22:9
1. Paul had on this occasion created quite a stir, and his zeal for the Gospel had stirred up the ire of other zealous religious fanatics – the result was a riot!
a. In being taken by some Roman soldiers he is asked: "Aren't you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the desert some time ago?"
b. Paul was being confused with another type of zealot!
c. Paul had been a religious zealot, but the other guy he was being confused with had been a political one!
d. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish one zealot from another since they all usually cause quite a stir!
2. Simon the zealot had been a political zealot, he had belonged to a group of Jews who believed fiercely that no foreign power had the right to exercise control over God's people, thus a slight mix of religious zeal with lots of political zeal also!
3. These zealots created constant strife in Israel, ironically not just for the Romans, for they also chided their fellow Jews who failed to overthrow the Roman powers among them, even to the point that they actually assassinated their own brethren they felt were under committed to their cause!
a. These Jewish zealots would roam through the Jewish crowds with daggers hidden in their coats and kill their own fellow Jews they perceived to have less commitment than they felt they should have in fighting against the Romans!
b. Perhaps Paul's earlier life of zeal of rounding up Christians to have them executed had left him open to this kind of suspicion, but like Simon the zealot Paul's zeal had been redirected from being misguided to being used by the Lord!
4. We must always be on our guard to be sure our zeal does not become misguided
a. History is full of examples of those in the name of Christ becoming misguided in their zeal!
(1. The inquisitions are great examples of misguided zeal!
(2. Killing "infidels" in the name of Christ is misguided zeal!
(3. Trying to force Christian values and laws on non-Christian people can be misguided zeal today too!
b. We must be careful to keep our zeal for the really important things, and not get sidetracked!
c. Our zeal should primarily be for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not primarily for political agendas. Changing people’s hearts and lives will bring about the greatest changes in politics.
d. Jesus did not focus His attack on the political system of His day, he went straight to the “heart” of the matter, people!
ILLUS: ONE SUNDAY A MINISTER BEGAN HIS SERMON IN THIS WAY: "I'D LIKE TO MAKE THREE POINTS TODAY FIRST THERE ARE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD WHO ARE GOING TO HELL. SECOND, MOST OF US SITTING HERE TODAY DON'T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT IT! AFTER A LENGTHY PAUSE HE CONTINUED: "MY THIRD POINT IS THAT YOU ARE MORE CONCERNED THAT I, YOUR PASTOR, JUST SAID THE WORD ‘DAMN’ THAN YOU ARE ABOUT THE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO HELL!" THIS IS MISPLACED ZEAL! -- SOURCE UNKNOWN
5. If we are not careful, we can easily get on the zeal bandwagon to fight all kinds of political issues, and doing so is not necessarily wrong IF our zeal is first in getting souls saved!
6. Simon the zealot could not have been a stranger man to call as one of Jesus’ followers!
a. Jesus made it clear on many occasions that He was not here to fight the Roman form of government or any other type, He was here to form a kingdom in the hearts and minds of His followers!
b. This kind of Kingdom could not have been further from the desires of a political zealot like Simon!
c. Jesus constantly refrained from fighting political issues and the laws of a secular government, instead He concentrated on winning hearts and thus changing the focus of lives from self serving to serving others!
7. Did Jesus ignore the evil in society – either Jewish or Roman? NO! But His focus on them was that of the heart of the man or woman involved, change that and then society and politics will change!
a. Trying to get more "Christian" laws on our books won't make this a Christian nation if the people who live in it are not first Christians!
b. Getting Christianity in the hearts
of people will be the only way to turn
c. If we had half the zeal to save people as we do to do away with abortion and other offensive laws we probably wouldn't have as much a problem with those issues today! It is like the proverbial "getting the cart before the horse" when we try to create a more Christian approach without first developing Christians.
B. Malicious Example Mark 15:7
1. Barabbas and the two "robbers" that were crucified with Jesus were all three "zealots" just like Simon had been!
a. They had been arrested for
insurrection and murder in an attempt to overthrow Roman rule and perhaps they
had advocated the killing of Jewish leaders who permitted
b. The common people who suffered under both Rome's rule and the abuse from the Spiritual leaders of Israel had a kind of respect and admiration for these zealots ... this might help explain the crowd’s desire to have Barabbas released instead of Jesus!
c. The crowd may have thought of Jesus
as a wimp in overthrowing
2. Barabbas certainly had zeal
although but he was a malicious example, he killed people he considered weak or
in agreement with
3. The people admired Barabbas’s zeal but ignored the hatred and murder of his heart, thus they reveal their own misguided evil hearts, it was not enough however that he had zeal, they needed to ask what the result of all his zeal had wrought.
ILLUS: ALEKSANDR SOLZENITSYN WROTE: "IF ONLY THERE WERE EVIL PEOPLE SOMEWHERE INSIDIOUSLY COMMITTING EVIL DEEDS, AND IT WERE NECESSARY ONLY TO SEPARATE THEM FROM THE REST OF US AND DESTROY THEM. BUT THE LINE DIVIDING GOOD AND EVIL CUTS THROUGH THE HEART OF EVERY HUMAN BEING, AND WHO IS WILLING TO DESTROY A PIECE OF HIS OWN HEART!" – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. It is conceivable that "Simon the zealot" had a past not unlike Barabbas!
a. Yet, Jesus calls this young man who must have had quite a shock over Jesus' concepts of Kingdom!
b. Interestingly enough, not a single negative word is recorded about Simon anywhere in the Bible unlike many of the other disciples!
c. It is quite possible that Simon simply transferred his zeal in the right way taking the message of salvation to others as the only hope for man, men of zeal tend to stay very focused so one like him once focused on the right thing is not likely to have strayed!
II. FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN Lk. 6:15 Acts 1:12-14
A. Messiah's Education Lk. 6:15
1. It is here we find just the simple statement that one "Simon the zealot" was part of the twelve. This is the only kind of statement made about him in the Bible; he is always referred to this way!
a. What an education Simon the zealot received from Jesus, almost all his ideas of "freedom" had to be relearned.
b. His ideas of political freedom had to be set aside as secondary issues; freedom of the soul was Jesus' focus, not freedom from a political philosophy.
c. It had to be hard for a man who was used to fighting for political freedom to change his zeal to spiritual freedom!
2. There had to be times when Simon the zealot struggled with confrontation – such as the time when Jesus was confronted with the issue of paying taxes to Caesar ... the zealots would have said "NO!" and then would have proceeded to kill Jews who did pay taxes as well as try and kill as many Roman governors as possible!
a. Simon's reeducation process had to be a tough one, Jesus totally rejected political terrorism on any system, unless it was a clear violation of God's moral laws!
b. The biggest war we wage is not against “flesh and blood” but against “principalities in high places and in darkness” – spiritual warfare!
3. Zealous unbelievers have a hard time understanding this concept of “spiritual warfare” or any spiritual dynamics and spiritual zeal.
ILLUS: WHEN EARL WEAVER WAS MANAGER OF THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES HE HAD A BORN-AGAIN OUTFIELDER NAMED PAT KELLY. KELLY ONE DAY WANTED TO TELL WEAVER ABOUT HIS ZEAL FOR THE LORD AND SO TOLD HIM HOW HE HAD LEARNED TO WALK WITH GOD. TO THIS WEAVER SIMPLY REPLIED, "I'D RATHER HAVE YOU WALK WITH THE BASES LOADED!" WEAVER'S IDEA OF ZEAL WAS FOR BASEBALL ONLY! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. How many times had Simon the Zealot watched Jesus deal with the political and religious leaders of His time and each time Jesus focused the issue on the heart and not the political system!
a. Jesus' zeal was focused on the human heart – the soul!
b. Even when Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the Temple in hot zeal it was because the religious leaders were taking advantage of the real worshippers who had come to meet with God, it was not about politics!
c. Jesus did not come to raise an army to advance a particular type of government over the nations, nor did He come to raise an army to kill unbelievers, He came to save that which was lost. The focus of His zeal was salvation for the lost; this is where our zeal has got to be centered also!
5. What we need is not more arguments in spiritual circles on theological differences, what we need is more examples of Christlikeness and a passion or zeal to reach the lost! This is how Jesus reeducated Simon the zealot – by example as well as teaching!
ILLUS: FOUR MINISTERS WERE ARGUING OVER THE BEST TRANSLATION, EACH PRESENTED HIS CASE AS FORCEFULLY AS HE COULD. THE FIRST MINISTER SAID THE KING JAMES WAS THE BEST, THE SECOND GUY SAID THE NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE WAS THE BEST BECAUSE IT CAME CLOSER TO THE GREEK AND HEBREW. THE THIRD GUY DEFENDED THE LIVING BIBLE BECAUSE IT HELPED PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE EASIER. THE FOURTH MINISTER SAT SILENT FOR A WHILE THEN FINALLY SAID, "I THINK THE BEST TRANSLATION I'VE EVER SEEN IS MY DAD'S TRANSLATION, HE PUT THE WORD OF GOD INTO PRACTICE EVERY DAY, IT WAS THE MOST CONVINCING TRANSLASTION I'VE EVER SEEN!" -- SOURCE UNKNOWN
a. It is obvious that Simon the zealot's reeducation came not just from what Jesus said but also from what he saw in Jesus!
b. His original hope as a Jewish zealot was for any coming Messiah to strike dead every Roman ruler and every Jewish leader that supported the Roman government. Jesus as Messiah fulfilled none of this, Christ's kingdom belonged in the heart not in the political system of his day and age!
c. Christian laws won't change this country into a “Christian” country, only Christians themselves can do this! Christian laws on the books won’t do it either, only when our names are in the book of life is there hope for a true Christian nation.
6. The best thing we could do for America to restore true freedoms would be an evangelism campaign to win the hearts of men, women, and children to Christ!
a. It was the spiritual backdrop of great people that made this country great and gave us the laws that formed this great nation!
b. It was not a political system that
7. It is clear that Jesus did not come to put a stamp of approval on ANY political system, nor to wage war against any, He came to reach men and women, and little children, to build the kingdom of God beginning in the heart and minds of His followers so their life choices affect the kingdoms of this world!
a. The Church can exist in any political system, and indeed it has historically!
b. It is true that in some political systems it is more difficult, those countries like America that had forefathers who were spiritually inclined there was an easier ability to live out the Gospel, and as we turn away from God as a country it gets harder as those freedoms are taken away, yet the Church will continue on!
c. Simon the zealot must have learned quickly and fully Jesus' idea of the kingdom, evidenced by the lack of any negative word of him in Scripture. This may indicate he got the idea and transferred his zeal to the proper role, especially since he is always called the ZEALOT every time he is mentioned, even in Acts!
B. Motivation Encouraged! Acts 1:12-14
1. After Jesus' resurrection we find Simon the zealot listed with others waiting for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, they stayed in a constant state of prayer for many days in obedience to what Jesus had asked of them.
2. Simon here is still called "THE ZEALOT" – an indication that his zeal had not waned, just found new direction!
3. The purpose of their waiting was to be filled with the Holy Spirit so a new motivation or zeal would propel them to preach the Gospel with boldness and fire!
a. They lacked zeal and courage, Pentecost gave them this – "Power to be..."
b. This new zeal from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit changed the world in one generation!
c. Evangelism would not have been the same without this Holy Spirit baptism!
d. What they didn’t need was better evangelism programs, it was power or zeal!
ILLUS: COCA-COLA HAS FULFILLED ITS VERSION OF THE GREAT COMMISSION MANY TIMES OVER. THEY CREATED A ZEALOUS PLAN TO PUT A BOTTLE OF COKE IN THE HAND OF EVERY HUMAN BEING IN EVERY COUNTRY, THEY FIGURE TO DATE THEY HAVE SUCCEEDED IN DOING THIS. THERE IS NO COUNTRY IN THE WORLD THAT HASN'T HAD COKA-COLA AVAILABLE TO ITS CITIZENS! IF THEY CAN DO THIS WITH A SOFT DRINK AND ZEALOUS WORKERS, WHAT COULD THE CHURCH DO WITH A FRESH PENTECOST? – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. The trouble with Americans and zeal is that we don't usually have zeal unless dollar signs are attached to it! What really motivates us to share the Gospel?
ILLUS: IMAGINE IF WE HAD TEN BAGS OF MONEY UP HERE EACH CONTAINING A THOUSAND DOLLARS. IF THE OFFER WAS TO THAT YOU COULD HAVE A BAG OF $1,000 IF BY THIS TIME TOMORROW YOU WOULD SHARE YOUR FAITH WITH ONE OTHER PERSON AND INVITE THEM TO ACCEPT CHRIST AS LORD, HOW QUICKLY DO YOU THINK THESE TEN BAGS WOULD BE CLAIMED BY TOMORROW? THE MONEY WOULD BE PROMISED NO MATTER HOW THE PERSON BEING PRESENTED THE GOSPEL RESPONDED! THESE BAGS WOULD EASILY BE GONE TOMORROW! THERE WOULD BE A RUSH TO GET OUT OF HERE TO SHARE YOUR FAITH – TO BE ONE OF THE FIRST 10 PEOPLE T0 DO SO! ARE WE MORE WILLING TO WITNESS OUT OF IMPURE MOTIVATIONS LIKE THIS THAN WE ARE OUT OF LOVE AND OBEDIENCE FOR THE LORD? – SOURCE UNKNOWN
5. What the Church needs today is a fresh new zeal, we are the Laodicean church, we are rich and feel we have need of nothing but we are in truth naked and poor, we need a fresh revival of zeal to get things moving again!
a. A few disciples like SIMON THE ZEALOT would be healthy for the Church!
b. Our zeal of course needs to be properly focused on people and their salvation; all the other things are just that, other things!
c. We have plenty of zeal for programs, facilities, equipment, finances, etc., what we need is zeal for the right thing – salvation!
6. The lack of verses mentioning Simon the zealot probably indicates that Jesus had little if any problems with him. His zeal once focused in the right direction must have made him stay on the straight and narrow path, although it did require new learning on his part!
CONCLUSION: Simon was a freedom fighter – a zealot! He wanted God's people free from an ungodly government and so he fought hard against political evil. However, when he found Jesus he found a different kind of freedom, not political but spiritual! Now he fought ungodliness in his own heart and he zealously helped others find freedom from sin's dominion through Jesus Christ the Lord! He remained the "zealot" or freedom fighter, except now he was battling the right enemy! Have you found real freedom yet? Are you fighting the right battles? What are you really zealous for?