Year 2 Day 180
Read - Luke 6v12-16
Message - Scott Woodburn
Individuals who complete their training for the Israel Defense Forces are taken to the top of a mountain plateau called Masada where they promise “Masada shall not fall again”. It is a cry of defiance and a promise that Israel will never again come under foreign occupation. Why does such an act take place? Because it was at Masada in the year 73AD that the Romans finally stamped out the Jewish rebellion that had raged for almost 8 years. Those who had been defending Masada all committed suicide rather than give themselves to the Romans. It isn’t hard to imagine why such memories stir patriotic zeal in modern Israel.
Interestingly the Jewish political group called “the Zealots” were destroyed at Masada. It is thought that the Zealots could trace their origins to around the year 6AD. They were similar to the Pharisees except they utterly despised the Romans and were prepared to do whatever it took to remove Rome from Israel.
As we almost reach the end of Luke’s list of Apostles we realise that one of Christ’s followers was part of the political movement called “the Zealots”. Simon the Zealot would take his place in the 12 alongside Matthew who had previously worked for the Romans. The Lord breaks down barriers and sets free those who would previously been enemies.
Despite his name, we know very little else about Simon. There exist all sorts of accounts outside the Bible about his activities. Some argue that Simon came to Britain with the Gospel. Others say he joined the rebellion against the Romans. Still more state that he spent his time in Africa. None of this can be verified Biblically and so we shouldn’t build a house on dodgy foundations.
We can be fairly certain that Simon was killed in Syria because of his faith and this event took place in 74AD. If true then Simon would have heard about Masada and the destruction of the temple in 72AD. For such a man both events would have caused great heartache and yet Simon would not have been undone for he had discovered that true freedom could not be found in a man made temple or a mountain fortress.
True freedom can only be found in Jesus Christ. He alone breaks our chains of sin. He alone sets us free from Satan, death and the wrath to come. He alone is the commander of the Lord’s army and He alone can stand against any foe. To be a Christian is to be someone with a new identity. We are no longer chained to the ways of the past but instead we are set free to become zealous for the Lord. We are welcomed into the kingdom of God which cannot fall and will endure forever. This is true freedom.
In our own troubled land we would do well to remember such truth. Another kind of zealot called Patrick Pearse once declared at the graveside of a fenian leader called O’Donovan Rossa that “Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.” Pearse was correct but not in the way he thought. This island’s greatest need is Christ. We have plenty of zealots of all different kinds and they cannot win true freedom for a single soul - only Christ can do that. Masada may fall again and other borders may rise and fall - regardless, Christ remains. Seek Him while He may be found and call upon Him while He is near. “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5v1)
Q64 What is required in the fifth commandment? The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.