The inner circle of Jesus…
Biblical Scholars argue over whether Simon the “Zealot” was called thus for his religious zeal, or if he was actually a member of the “Zealot Party” who were, “Zealous defenders of the Law and of the national life of the Jewish people; name of a party opposing with relentless rigor any attempt to bring Judea under the dominion of idolatrous Rome, and especially of the aggressive and fanatical war party… The members of this party bore also the name Sicarii, from their custom of going about with daggers (“sicæ”) hidden beneath their cloaks, with which they would stab any one found committing a sacrilegious act or anything provoking anti-Jewish feeling.” Simon, “Follow me.” And he did.
In contrast was Matthew, a customs official who made the call on how much tax should be paid on imports and exports. The Jews hated him because he worked for Rome and betrayed his countrymen. Matthew was the writer of the gospel that bears his name – a dishonest tax collector turned around by the love of Christ. “Follow me.”
I could easily see Jesus calling two enemies to learn to deeper meaning of loving each other. I go with door number two – the Zealot Party.
Now lets look at Mary Magdeline – she was a whore, and yet Jesus spent a considerable amount of time with her, she acted as priestess for him when she anointed his feet with oil and was commended for it. And woman caught in adultery – “he who is without sin cast the first stone…” Mary, “Follow me.” His disciples kept company with her as well.
The Samaritan woman at the well was another example of the love Jesus showed to outcasts. A Jew openly speaking to a Samaritan was like being caught with a leper (he cared for those too) and it just wasn’t acceptable – and a single man teaching a woman who had been in adultery and married many times. No way! Yet, Jesus spent time alone with her by the well, telling her about her life, and encouraging her to drink of Him.
The thief crucified next to Jesus called him Lord – just once, “This day you will be with me in heaven.”
These people called him Lord. Simple trust. Simple faith. It was amazing too because they all WANTED to hang out with Him and immediately recognized Him for who He was! Why?
Jesus led an utterly scandalous life in relationships with people who He was not supposed to hang out with. In first-century Judaism, godly people kept their distance from the ungodly. Religions leaders – Pharisees wouldn’t even hang out with common Jewish folk, let alone non-Jews! Jesus was criticized for constantly being found among lowest of the low.
He didn’t just go in to evangelize and go back out to “church,” having done his religious duty. He truly loved on them and enjoyed being with them. Kids thought he was awesome. Kids have a keen sense of who is real and who is religious.
I am challenged by the example of Jesus. Do I earnestly seek out hurting, lonely, desperate people, or do I do my in and out duty to return to the safe “fellowship of believers.” Do I live in love, integrity, and genuinely value those “outside the faith?” Do they want to hang out with me? Or do I see them as “sinners needin’ to be saved.” Shame on me if I do. Jesus didn’t.
“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For while I was with you I resolved to know nothing except Jesus the Messiah, and him crucified.” I Cor. 2:1,2
It’s all about Jesus.