There once was a young man who worked in the Temple of Jerusalem. He slaved away all day, and no chore was too menial for him. Bringing water, sweeping the floors, fetching meals were his usual. He answered to the priests and all the servants were above him. He did love the law, and on the Sabbath he would sit in the Temple and listen to the priests teach.
One day there was a disturbance. Some servants had been sent out to arrest a troublemaker, Jesus of Nazareth. They had returned empty handed, and had angered the priests with their insubordination.
The young man, holding his broom and watching the exchange, summoned the courage to speak, “I will arrest this Jesus, if you give me leave to go.”
The priests and the older servants were startled, and then laughed at him. Finally, one spoke: “By all means, mighty servant. And don’t forget your staff, you may need it.” He was dismissed with a mock salute.
Carrying his broom, he made his way through the streets of Jerusalem to the place where Jesus and his disciples had been teaching. It was dusk when he found them. They were sitting around a fire, talking. Jesus had his back to him, and was addressing his followers, eleven men. Without hesitation, he walked up behind Jesus and spoke.
“In the name of Moses and the Temple I arrest you, Jesus of Nazareth.” He laid his hand upon Jesus’ shoulder, and held his broom straight in the other hand to demonstrate his authority.
The men with Jesus stared at him, and then a few laughed.
Jesus answered without moving. “Your faith is strong. But my friends doubt you. Will you throw down your staff, like Moses?”
He thinks I won’t, the young man thought. He threw down the broom between Jesus and his followers, and said, “None of you may cross this, Jesus is to come with me.”
The broom darkened, melted, and a serpent writhed upon the ground. His hand gripped Jesus’ shoulder even harder, and the others stared at the snake
“Indeed, your faith is strong. I must go with you.” Jesus stood up, and the young man stepped back from him.
“Do not forget your staff.” The young man looked, and the serpent had changed back to a broom. He picked it up, and the other men did not intervene.
“Wait here” Jesus told his friends.
The young man gestured to the street, and Jesus walked ahead of him. A few times Jesus was recognized, and would stop and speak with someone. The young man began to grow impatient, and was tempted to prod him along with his broom.
As they walked through a particularly dark alley he warned Jesus, “Do not try to slip away.”
“You would follow me?”
“Yes”, he replied.
“Even into danger, Simon?”
“I would. I run fast, you would not escape me” Simon said.
“Do not worry, I will never flee you. And in fact, I accept your service.”
As he said this they came to an intersection, and a woman rushed up to Simon out of the darkness, shaking her fist in his face. “Simon, what are you doing?”
“Mother!” he responded, and fell down hard to the ground in surprise.
Wagging her finger in his face, “Simon, this man is the promised one. Lord, please forgive my son, he has always been too hasty to act, and never thinks of the consequences.”
“Be at ease mother, all is well.” Jesus responded in a soft voice.
The woman gave Simon an imploring look, and then walked away down an alley.
“Shall we go back now?” Jesus asked, pulling Simon back to his feet. “Do not forget your broom. The Temple will not miss it, though it should.”
And now you know why we call Simon “The Zealot” John said to the young people sitting around them. “He was the only man brave enough to arrest the Lord all by himself.”
“And John never lets me forget it” Simon said in response..
“But why did you care what your mother said?” a young woman asked.
“Yes, why did I, John?” Simon turned to him. “For all his cleverness, John still needs to work on his endings. I had always honored my mother, but I had saved my love for the law. I loved her that night, and not the law, because she had been dead for three years.”