Simon carried the cross of Christ!

Published 3:35 pm Friday, December 7, 2007

By Staff
Simon was from Cyrene, a place on the north coast of Africa. He was in Jerusalem the day of Jesus' crucifixion either as a pilgrim traveling to participate in the Passover feast, or he was an immigrant.
The gospel of Mark, chapter 15, verse 21, describes Simon as, "coming out of the country and passing by." One might say that Simon was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He might have stumbled on this execution as he was going about his daily routine.
A main point in the teaching of Jesus Christ throughout His time on earth was the fact that following Christ involved cross bearing. In Mark, chapter 8, verse 34, Jesus said, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." A cross was a troublesome, unwieldy load. The cross was a reproach and none would bear it but by compulsion.
It is strange that the Romans would have even temporary pity on Jesus, in that they would conscript help to carry the cross. Possibly, they saw how weak He was and did not want to circumvent any of the spectacle of the crucifixion.
They compelled Simon to carry the cross. Maybe he was standing near when Jesus stumbled under the load. Simon was close to Jesus during this procession. Simon heard when Jesus turned to the mourning crowd and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?" (Luke 23:28-31). This is the longest public discourse of Jesus during the entire betrayal and crucifixion process.
Where were the devoted followers of Christ? Why were they not there to help Jesus in this time of suffering and trial? They were lurking in the shadows filled with fear, hoping they would not be identified with Jesus Christ.
Simon carried the cross all the way to the place where the Roman soldiers instructed him to put it down. As desperately as he wanted to get away, it is possible he was detained there until the nails were driven in the hands and feet of Jesus. The clothes of Simon were likely stained with the blood of Christ, by coming in contact with the cross that Jesus had been carrying.
We do not hear any more about Simon. We are told he was the father of Rufus and Alexander. Maybe this Rufus is the one mentioned by Paul in Romans, chapter 16, verse 13.
The apostles who were hiding in fear on that crucifixion day did step up later to bear the cross of Christ in service to Him. Most lost their lives in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Bearing the cross of Christ these days is strictly voluntary. No Roman soldier is going to force us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.
The cross of Christ is still an unwieldy load. It still has reproach. Beware those who speak glibly about taking up the cross of Christ. It is possible they know nothing of sacrificial service.
Jesus went to the cross as Savior to suffer and die for the sins of man. The death of Christ satisfied the righteous judgment of God and released us from the penalty and guilt of our sin. We must go to the cross to die to selfish interests and to give ourselves unreservedly to follow and serve Jesus Christ.
The cross is still the cross. It was an instrument of death whereby Jesus provided eternal life to all who believe. The message of the cross gives life to all who believe, but it could mean death to those who choose to pick up the cross and carry the message.
Simon carried the cross of Christ. Will we?