About 50 years ago, there was a movie that became a TV series. The title of both was The Odd Couple. Two different individuals who were completely different on the surface were thrust into a coexistence as roommates. The movie and series were both well received and made for a number of laughs as two completely different outlooks and occupations collided with each other.
Probably without the laughs, there is an odd couple that followed Jesus. Last week we mentioned about this rag tag group Jesus put together to change the world. Some were brothers, individuals who would have been together for years. Others maybe weren’t business partners, but at least worked in the same occupation. And some seem to have been friends. Individuals that would have fit together. That is except for two.
The first we are very familiar with. He wrote the gospel that bears his name: Matthew. In multiple gospels, we read how Jesus approached him, ate at his house, and called him to leave his job to follow Him. What we don’t know is what it meant for him to leave his job. He was an employee of sorts of the Romans. As a tax collector you collected taxes from your countrymen and passed it along to the occupying officials—after keeping what you wanted for yourself as your payment. As History tells us, a tax collector was most likely not very well liked.
The other one is only seen in the list of apostles and is mentioned just ahead of Judas. We know a first name and a descriptive title for him--Simon the Zealot. We don’t know what his occupation was, who his parents were, or even how he came to be a follower of Jesus. We simply know he was one of the twelve and the descriptive title attributed to him as a zealot.
That title does however give us a little insight into who he was. Josephus would later write that the title was given to a sect who were zealous for pure religion. And the Greek word comes from the Hebrew for “jealous.” We get the picture that this individual was devoted to having pure (in his mind) adherence to God’s ways. Often times this would include reclaiming the land of their forefathers back from the occupiers. In this case, the Romans.
When you think of this last point and the employer of Matthew, we can see where this would truly be an odd couple. And yet Jesus called them together, to serve side by side. Is that not a lesson for us today? We may not see eye to eye with a brother or sister in Christ. What gets overlooked, maybe because it is so small, is the word “in.” If we are both “in” Christ we have been called together to serve together, just as the zealot and tax collector were. These relationships may seem odd, especially to the world around us. But it wouldn’t be the first time or even the last, that followers of Jesus may be accused of being odd.
Oddly your brother,