Did you know that the palm leaf was also the symbol of the Zealots, the radical party who carried out a violent campaign of resistance against the Roman occupiers in Jesus' time? Were the palm leaves waved and strewn down by the people in Jerusalem as much an act of reverence to Christ as it was an act of defiance to the Romans? Surely Jesus was aware of their true intent, surely He knew that those cries of "Hosanna" would become "Crucify Him!" scant days later. One of Jesus' disciples, Simon, is identified as Simon the Zealot in the ESV, NASV, NIV, and NLT. In the KJV and NKJV he is identified as Simon the Canaanite. Was Simon a member of the radical Zealot party or was it just a reference to his religious zeal? We do not really know. Scripture tells us almost nothing about Simon. In the Gospels, he is mentioned in three places, but only to list his name with the 12 disciples. In Acts 1:13 we learn that he was present with the 11 apostles in the upper room of Jerusalem after Christ had ascended to heaven. The majority of Biblical scholars suggest that Simon was indeed a member of the radical Zealots and that Jesus chose Simon, a member of the tax-hating, Roman-hating Zealots, to counterbalance Matthew, a former tax collector and employee of the Roman empire. Those scholars say such a move by Jesus would have shown that his kingdom reaches out to people in all walks of life. Having spent the entire week studying Palm Sunday, and given my firm belief that the cause of Jesus Christ transcends political causes, governments, and all earthly turmoil, I prefer Simon's designation as a former member of the Zealots. Church tradition holds that Simon spread the gospel in Egypt as a missionary and was martyred in Persia. Like the rest of Christ's disciples, with the exception of Judas, Simon left everything in his previous life to follow Jesus. He lived true to the Great Commission after Jesus' ascension. Conversely, isn't it poignant that it is also suggested that Barabbas the murderer who was released while Jesus was crucified was probably a Zealot? The Gospel of Mark 15:7 identifies him thus: A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. This is also done in Luke 23:19. I do not know if faith and politics should mix but I am certain that Christ rejected the political solution. I am not saying for one moment that Christians should have nothing to do with politics, nevertheless, I do believe that the true remedy for the human condition and the sin that infects it lie not in legislation but in the living Christ. In the setting of our priorities as churches and as individual Christians, the Gospel and the Commission MUST take precedence over all other concerns. I cannot help but wonder if we had focused our energies and resources on making disciples as commissioned by our Lord as opposed to changing laws, legislation, and things political whether the world we live in would not be very different. We have had laws against murder and numerous other crimes for centuries, we even had laws against adultery and sodomy, but man-made legislation have not solved anything, if anything it has gotten worse, so why do we persist in focusing so much energy on the very thing Christ rejected? Isn't the plan of God always superior to the wiles of men? Perhaps we should be more like Simon the Zealot, maybe we should set aside our former lives and passions to follow Jesus, living true to the Gospel and the Commission after Jesus' ascension. In His name, Arisen
When I think of Simon, I think of a man who had tried to find peace via a political agenda. If we force the Romans to change laws, if we overthrow them and drive them from our country, if get the right people in control, etc.
Perhaps in the beginning, Simon followed Jesus because he believed Jesus would lead them to victory against the Romans. I think more than a few people followed Jesus for that very reason and I believe that is true today. Or perhaps Simon had become disillusioned with the Zealot movement and had already come to the conclusion that there was an emptiness inside which political victory and even freedom from Roman oppression could not bring. Looking for something more, he began to follow Christ. The Bible is silent on this matter.
What I do know is that Simon made a choice during those dark moments between the betrayal and arrest of Jesus and the resurrection. He was with the other Apostles and like you said, he was in the Upper Room. He made his choice to do things God's way and as you mentioned, tradition holds that he paid for that choice with his life.
I believe that Christians should be responsible citizens and if we live in a country where we are given the privilege to have a say in our laws and vote that I think it is our responsibility to do so. However, I also know that legislation alone will NOT change anyone's heart. Like you, I fear that we have gotten so caught up in trying to enforce morality through legislation that we have neglected that which is far more important, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ who can transform you into a new creation!
Passing legislation on things such as abortion does not address the real problem. The real problem is sin. It is sin that drives people to break God's law, force themselves upon others, take advantage of people, crave things and even delight in deliberately committing acts which hurt themselves, others and God. I've said this before but if we were truly reaching out to the world like we should... there would be no need to pass legislation that dictates morality. We don't need "morality". We need Jesus Christ!