Simon the Zealot.
April 1st, 2002
Received by H.
My dear brother:
I know that you had hoped for a message on the healing of a leper, but I have another topic in mind. In the year 20 of our era, a 20 year-old youth moved from his small native village on the Golan Heights to the town of Bethsaida Julias in search of work. His parent’s family was very large and the small land parcels which they used for sowing did not suffice for feeding all the family.
Many times people who live as a minority amidst other people become stricter, more fanatic in the observance of their customs. This happened with the principal character of our story. His name was Simon, and the strong Greek influence in the area where he came from had strengthened his Jewish roots.
That first century really was a messianic century. The favorite literature of many people was apocalyptic, such as the book of Enoch, and the Jewish world yearned for the Messiah’s coming such as they never did before.
Simon felt pain seeing the country of his ancestors suffering under the Roman yoke, and he felt that he had to contribute his share to recover his people’s freedom. He joined a group of fanatic nationalists, and this is why they nicknamed him “Simon the Zealot.”
In Bethsaida he found work on the fishing boats of the Zebedee family, and he made friends with two of the patriarch’s sons, James and John. On many occasions, when they were washing their nets, he told them of his ideas. Finally, he convinced them and another friend, Philip, to join the nationalists.
However, the years would teach Simon and his friends that under the cover of nationalism many mean-minded people took advantage of the situation for their own enrichment, or simply for living out freely their perverted instincts. In the course of the following years the group of young men withdrew gradually from the revolutionary movement, but remained with a burning thirst in their souls for something. However, what that something was they did not know. It was of course the moment when they met Jesus. This story you already know.
If one had to classify the apostles into intellectual and emotional types, one could say that Simon belonged to the first group, together with James, Jesus’ brother. Between these two a deep friendship would grow.
The Master’s words impressed Simon very much, as they did all of us, although we did not understand all their implications. We all dreamt of the establishment of the “Kingdom,” but here on earth, with Jesus as our king. As you know very well, the future would be very different.
The many miracles the Master had performed left us almost with the impression of Jesus’ “omnipotence,” and I believe that if I had not betrayed the Master, Simon would have done it sooner or later, to force him to demonstrate his infinite power. In some way, we all were guilty “of having ears but not listening.”
The Master’s death constituted a catastrophe for the whole movement, with a great danger of putting an end, once and for all, to the work the Master had begun. It was only through his appearances on several occasions, and on more occasions than the Bible relates, that the embryo of a “Christian Church” was able to survive, and principally because of the events of Pentecost, which I, unfortunately, could neither witness nor experience.
The diversity in the character of Jesus’ first followers, of course, caused tensions between them, and eventually a group of “liberals,” around Peter and John, and another group of “conservatives,” around James and Simon, formed.
Simon stayed in Jerusalem until James’ authority as the bishop of the “central church,” had become consolidated, and then he said good-bye to his friend, to focus on his work as a missionary. The legend relates that Simon preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and even in Britain, where he was crucified in 74 A.D.
That is not really correct. Actually, Simon traveled to Africa via Sicily, where he founded the first Christian community that later would gain much importance. From the Roman province of Africa, he traveled further westward, crossing the province of Numidia, and arrived finally in Mauritania, which at that time consisted of the northern part of what is today’s Algeria and Morocco. There he dedicated himself to preaching until his death. He died at a relatively young age, less than fifty years old, from natural causes.
The regions where Simon had preached the Gospel would very soon succumb to the influence of the gentile church, and later on, due to the invasions of Germanic tribes, they would become ramparts of Arianism. Today not much of Simon’s work is left. The conquest of Islam swept away everything.
With this short biography, I hope to have satisfied some your curiosity. Little by little, I will deliver additional information on all the people of Jesus’ circle. It is a pity that almost nothing has been transmitted about them, and the little that has survived is just in the form of legends of doubtful value.
God bless you,
© Copyright is asserted in this message by Geoff Cutler 2013