And as they led Him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)
Imagine what it must have been like to be Simon. There you are, coming into the city from the country, where you've probably been staying during your Passover visit. You plan to go to the temple, maybe visit the market one last time before the Sabbath starts. You notice a flurry in the crowd and wonder what is going on—and then a Roman soldier grabs you, loads you with a heavy cross, and there you are, part of Jesus' execution parade.
Simon must have been shocked. Indignant. Scared. Upset. Embarrassed, even, to be involved with something so terrible. What if people thought he was the criminal?
Simon didn't know then that the real substitution was the other way around. Jesus was taking Simon's place—bearing the weight of Simon's sin and wrongdoing, all his shame and guilt and brokenness. Jesus would carry that weight to Calvary, where it would die with Him. And it would stay dead—though Jesus Himself would rise, alive again forever.
Simon didn't know Jesus was taking his place. But we know. And we know that Jesus did this for us, too—and for everybody in the world. Now that He has risen from the dead, He calls us to Himself. And everyone who trusts in Him will live forever—forgiven, loved, and free.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for taking my place. Amen.
* Have you ever substituted yourself for someone else in an unpleasant situation, small or large?
* If so, why did you do it? What was the other person's reaction?
* How do you think Simon felt when he became a believer and found out what Jesus did for him? (The fact that the early church knew his sons' names makes this very likely—see Mark 15:21).
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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