S is for Simon of Cyrene
Matthew 27:32: "And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross."
Mark 15:21: "And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross"
Simon was an innocent bystander on the day that Jesus was crucified. For whatever reason, perhaps to buy, sell, or trade, he was in Jerusalem that day, and found himself on the road when the Romans were leading the 'prisoners' to the hill of execution.
As you well know, Jesus had been 'arrested' the night before, was up all night enduring endless torture and questioning, was passed between the high priests, Herod, and Pilate, and finally led away for a public flogging and execution. His earthly body was spent. He was beaten, suffering from extreme blood loss and pain, dehydrated, hungered, and exhausted. The Romans forced the prisoners to carry their heavy wood crosses through the city streets and up to the hill of Golgotha for one last humiliation before being nailed to the crosses and left for dead.
In his fleshly body, Jesus was unable to complete this task. Sometimes I read Scriptures and ponder on them. Knowing that Jesus was also God, could He have given Himself the strength to finish? Or was He not doing so in order to allow a bystander to be drawn in to the story that day?
Can you imagine being the one selected to finish carrying the cross of Christ? To walk side by side with Him as He takes his last steps on this earth? Even if Simon did not understand the full implications of what was taking place that he was a part of, he must have felt the holiness of the moment. To look into the eyes of the Lord Jesus and feel that love as he walked those last steps by His side.
The Bible never discusses Simon again that we know of. It never tells us a definite time that he trusted Christ as his own personal Savior. But I do find a fascinating suggestion. In Mark 15:21, the Bible lists the names of Simon's two sons: Rufus and Alexander. In another place in Scripture, a man named Rufus is listed as a follower of Christ.
Romans 16:13: "Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord"
What if the Rufus that is mentioned first was introduced to Christ as he watched his father take up the cross and walk beside Christ to the crucifixion site? One could never be the same after experiencing that!
1 Corinthians 3:9: "For we are labourers together with God"
This verse tells us that our ministry is not our own. God is doing the work, and we are the earthly 'hands and feet' that He uses. This is the verse that comes to mind when I think of Simon. He truly was in a position of being a laborer together with the Lord Jesus Christ. In our day, God also has a cross for each of us to carry. He directs us to "daily take up our cross and follow Him".
Simon was the first one to literally fulfill this command. My prayer is that I will, like Simon, take up the cross that the Lord has left for me, and walk to fulfill the Lord's command. While I am doing so, I can know that the Lord Jesus Christ is walking beside me each step of the way, giving strength and showing love, and has given me an example to follow.
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