The Bible gives us a list of the 12 Disciples without much commentary. Names are listed as if we knew something about each one. In reality we only know a little bit about most of them and a couple we know almost nothing. One such disciple is known as Simon the Zealot.
The attachment of the name Zealot is a very specific historical reference. The Zealots were a group of fanatical Jewish Nationalists who were filled with hatred for the Romans. It was this hate for Rome that destroyed the city of Jerusalem. One historian says the Zealots were reckless persons, zealous in good practices but also in the worst kind of actions.
With that one paragraph I have just described everything we know about Simon the Zealot. There are no Bible stories about him. In fact there is no real extra-Biblical material about him. With most of the disciples we have some great story of faith and martyrdom associated with their death. Tradition says he died as a martyr and nothing more.
He lived as a Zealot. Then he followed Jesus. He eventually died for his faith in Jesus. That’s it.
There was another Simon that Jesus called to follow him. Jesus would change his name to Peter and he would become a spokesman for the disciples. He would make a great confession. He would be one of Jesus three closest disciples. He would deny knowing Jesus and be reinstated. He would preach on Pentecost. He would be pillar in the church and a great historical figure.
Two Simons. One well know and the other barely known. One a leader and the other a question mark.
I wonder, “Does that make Simon the Zealot insignificant?” I mean, “Did Jesus really need him as one of the twelve?”
Maybe the bigger question is this, “Does a life become more significant in God’s eyes by being famous?” “Does being known equal being significant?”
Unfortunately we live in a world with celebrity Christians. Religious leaders, government officials, entertainers and sports figures who claim to follow Jesus are headline news. In a quest to keep up with the crowd we boast of our service or charity on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram looking for some kind of acknowledgement. If people know what we are doing then we are somehow more significant to the kingdom of God.
I am convinced that the kingdom of God needs more people willing to be Simon the Zealot than Simon Peter. We need more people willing to serve far from the headlines and make a difference known only to God.
Having Jesus know our name makes us significant and nothing else.