Mark 15:21 - And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry His cross.
Simon of Cyrene is an interesting man. It appears he was a foreigner from Cyrene, a place in Libya, but we have no way of knowing whether he was a Jew by birth or a Gentile convert. He was probably visiting Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. Mark says he was coming in from the country, which might mean he was camping outside the crowded city during the holidays.
Simon was on his way somewhere else when he saw Jesus stumbling under the cross. He wasn't there to watch the procession to Golgotha—chances are Simon had no idea men were going to be executed that day. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And so the Roman soldiers, realizing Jesus wasn't going to make it without help, grabbed Simon. "Hey, you!" they must have said, "Grab this and follow Him!"
Simon couldn't get out of it. What, carry a bloody, shameful cross through the streets of Jerusalem? No doubt everybody would think he was the condemned man! But the soldiers wouldn't listen to any arguments. They had the right to force him, and they did. Simon carried Jesus' cross.
It probably wasn't that long before Simon himself became a Christian. Mark tells us the names of his children, which means they were probably well known in the Christian church. If so, that means the Holy Spirit Himself said to Simon and his family the same thing the soldiers would have said the first time: "Here, take up this cross and follow Jesus." That command—that honor—is repeated every time another person comes to faith.
Every one of us who loves Jesus learns what it means to carry the cross—to follow after Him—to be exposed to shame and mistreatment for His sake. Some of our brothers and sisters learn this in very graphic ways, as they suffer persecution at the hands of those who hate Christ. For others of us, it comes in more subtle ways. But however it comes, we endure it knowing that if we carry Jesus' cross, it is because He Himself has carried our cross first, suffering, dying—and rising again!—for our sake. Because He loves us.
THE PRAYER: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for carrying our cross for us. Amen.
When have you had to do a job you really didn't want to do?
Who (besides Jesus!) has helped you by "carrying your cross" in some way?
Does it make it easier to suffer, knowing that Jesus has suffered for and with you? Why or why not?
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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