Luke 23:26 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.
I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that Simon of Cyrene never saw this coming! He was on his way in from the country and BOOM! He is, without warning, carrying the cross for Jesus. He did not know that he was carrying THE cross that the work of salvation for all mankind was about to be accomplished on. I can imagine that while he carried it, suffering under its weight, he was frustrated, confused, angry, exhausted…you name the negative emotion, he was probably feeling it.
Plus! If I were Simon, I would be thinking, “I don’t deserve this kind of punishment! I was simply coming in from the country when grabbed and ordered to bear the weight of someone else’s burden.”
The journey from Cyrene to Jerusalem by land was 783 miles. Walking 4 miles per hour for 8 hours per day, it would have taken Simon 32 days to make the journey for Passover. My guess, he was already tired of walking and carrying stuff! To make matters worse, if Simon came in contact with the blood on the cross, he would be ceremonially unclean and unable to participate in Passover, which he had just walked for a month to do! Passover was not just a fun holiday for Simon. In a culture and religion where obedience to the law and participation in the feasts and festivals was key, his inability to participate would be carried with him through the entire year. And remember, he had just walked for a month, or at best sailed from Cyrene, Libya on the Mediterranean Sea, landed in possibly Jaffa then had to travel another 32 miles to Jerusalem. Either way, it was a long and arduous journey…and for NOTHING! Or so he must have thought…
What a glorious part of the story of redemption he got to play! He couldn’t see it at the time and I am sure it didn’t make sense to him but when all was finished and he heard about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the puzzle must have gloriously come together in his mind. If he were a devout enough Jew to make the journey to Jerusalem for Passover, he would have known the scriptures and the prophecies in them foretelling of this very man for whom he just carried a cross – The Messiah, The Anointed One.
He was used by God to be part of the story of redemption of the world!
His perspective quickly went from, “This is the worst day of my life and it is so unfair” to “I just helped The Messiah carry the cross that he was crucified on for your sins and for my sins. Yeah, I missed The Passover because I was COVERED IN THE BLOOD OF CHRIST! Can I get an AMEN? I got to be part of that work! I got to play a part in THE story! I got to serve the Almighty in a BIG WAY!”
That unfair moment turned glorious did not get wasted on Simon of Cyrene, No Way. We know from Mark 15 that his sons, Rufus and Alexander were active members in the rapidly growing church following Christ’s resurrection. Also his wife is mentioned in Romans 16:13 when Paul wrote: “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.” So Simon did a pretty good job of evangelizing to and discipling his family who ended up leaders in the early church as it shared the gospel. Pretty awesome Ten Mina Legacy if you ask me!
Remember, when the road is bumpy, and the cross you are carrying may not seem like it should be yours to carry, the story is bigger than you can see. Your unexpected, unfair cross could be anything inconvenient you think you don’t deserve.
But God is allowing you to carry it for awhile so that you can be part of His work. You may not see it while you are under the crushing weight of that cross and trudging up the hill. But eventually, a great and glorious work will be done by God through you! By your obedience, you get to be part of it.
So your attitude while you carry that burden that isn’t yours… It is everything. You can be compassionate and remember Whose work you are doing, or you can complain and grumble and guilt trip the person or people God intended for you to help. The choice is yours.
Simon didn’t think he deserved the cross he was carrying, but in reality, we all deserve that cross. Praise Jesus for bearing that one for us! The least I can do is bear the crosses He asks me to whether fair or not. He will not ask me to bear more than I can handle and He will give me the strength to do it. He promises. And His promises are rock solid.
Father, help me remember that You intend for me to carry each cross I am given. That You Lord, will be glorified through my obedience and that I am ultimately blessed to be part of Your great plan for the redemption of mankind. Not the same part of the story as Simon of Cyrene! But a part You are writing just for me. Thank you. Amen.
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