“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” – Titus 2:11-14
Know what’s so amazing about the Bible?
One minute you think you’re studying the lives of the twelve disciples, but every.single.time. another character comes onto the scene you end up unwrapping another intentional, beautiful look into the merciful heart of God.
Ah, Jesus, you are so amazing.
Sally Lloyd-Jones is right: every story whispers His name. “There are lots of stories in the Bible. But all the stories are telling one big story. The story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.”
Jesus came to rescue the world alright, but He didn’t do it in a way that the world expected. As we learned a little more about Matthew and Simon the Zealot this week, I’m reminded once again that Jesus does things so opposite of all of my fleshly inclinations.
If it were up to me I’d definitely choose the path of least resistance: men with great reputations – low on drama, high on refinement – and I’d for sure run away from anyone or anything that might incite more controversy into an already touchy political scene. After all, there’s a world to save, Jesus, and we need buy-in. Let’s be real, I’d want the disciples to make me look good. You know, to set me up for some efficient kingdom success.
But not Jesus.
Jesus had a world to rescue, and every step of the way He wanted us to know that absolutely nothing or no one is beyond His transforming reach.
That’s just who He is. He took the hard road for us, and that completely wrecks me.
Jesus doesn’t shy away from human weakness, hangups, heavy pasts, and hard core division. In fact, that’s precisely why He came. We already know that Jesus uses all kinds of people – the ones you and I have already written off, and it seems the more unlikely, the better.
It’s one thing to work with the hasty, bold personality of Peter or the quiet, unassuming Andrew, but a tax collector and a Zealot? The Zealots were a well-known fanatical Jewish party. They hated the Romans on such an extreme level that their passion for Israel and God’s law turned them into hard-core assassins. They wouldn’t hesitate to kill or be killed for the cause – even to the point of sacrificing their very own wives and children. We would look at their methodology today and think it pure insanity. It was a passion gone seriously wrong – an altruistic stance that became warped by sin and the pursuit of worldly identity and power.
Simon was the Zealot.
But Jesus is the Cure.
Just like walking with Jesus transformed the disciples who came before him, an encounter with Jesus softened Simon’s heart and transformed any misplaced, reckless zeal into an unmatched, eager passion for his Savior. Jesus’s followers would come by invitation instead of force; by way of servant leadership instead of warped self-promotion. The way Jesus chose and discipled the twelve was a tender and intentional lead-in to the counter-cultural task He would later assign them.
“Jesus’s example of servant leadership sets him apart from so many historical religious leaders. He was not a God who lorded it over his followers and demanded they follow him or coerced their obedience through authoritarianism and fear. Instead, he called them to the excellence of holiness and yet lovingly served them in order to win their hearts and show them the means of reaching others’ hearts as well.” – Sally Clarkson
Jesus would later ask Simon and the others to step out of their comfort zones and be zealous to reach the ones just like them…
The ones everyone else deemed too far gone and broken beyond repair.
The ones labeled too ordinary and not worth pursuing.
The ones whose hearts were hardened and stubborn beyond belief.
The ones who seemed too attached to the world to leave its treasures behind.
Jesus took the hard road and gave Himself up for these very ones when He chose the disciples, and when He chose the cross.
“To redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
Oh Jesus, you did that for me.
Since You are the Cure, let me live my life in SOLD OUT abandon for You… EAGER (ready and with expectation!) to do what is good…
So that they might see You.
*Let’s talk: Where is God calling you to eagerly do good today?
At His feet,