A 40 Day Journey to Becoming Like the One We Follow
Day 33: Zeal (John 2:16-17)
In the time of Jesus there was a sect of devout Jews who were patriots to the extreme. Rome would label them as terrorists. They devoted themselves to God and country, specializing in guerrilla warfare and stealth assassinations. They were militia men in civilian clothing. Ultimately they would be the last holdouts in a devastating war against Rome that would end with a mass suicide within the confines of the desert fortress known as Masada.
These were the Zealots.
Were they right? In their own eyes, obviously. As the name implies they were definitely zealous – meaning they were full of “great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.” The objective was to bring about the kingdom of God and reestablish Israel as an independent nation by defeating and driving out the Roman occupation.
Zeal can be a virtue or a vice depending on where it’s focused. Many people across our nation are zealous about pro-life issues or environmental protections. Others are zealous about preserving tax cuts for the rich and upholding the causes of multi-billion dollar corporations. Some are zealous defenders of the status quo and will fight against any sort of change.
What was Jesus zealous about?
When he cleared the Temple of those clogging up the space with price-gouged sacrificial animals and rip-off rates of money exchange, his disciples couldn’t help but think of the Scripture that says, “Zeal for your house has consumed me.”
Jesus’ zeal, his cause or objective which he pursued with energy and enthusiasm, was not preserving the status quo. Jesus was passionate about opening up access to the Father as wide as he could. He wanted all people from everywhere to be able to worship God freely at the Temple. He wanted his followers to know and experience the Father just like he did. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, opening up access to everyone to come to the Father through himself.
What are you zealous for? When was the last time you felt zeal about something? Where are you directing your energy and enthusiasm? What cause or objective are you pursuing?
Let Jesus be our guide, to focus on the things that mattered most to him.