This past Sunday, Easter Sunday, our worship service included a song that related to the New Testament character—Simon of Cyrene. The message of this song comes from the Gospel narrative found in Mark 15. After Jesus had been condemned to die and was carrying his Cross to the appointed execution area, he stumbled. Because of the horrific punishment he had absorbed, Jesus struggled to complete his death march. Simon of Cyrene enters the picture in Mark 15 as an innocent bystander.
History is silent regarding Simon other than he helped carry the Cross for Jesus. Did he argue with the soldiers? Did he beg them to find someone else? Did he try to run away? The Bible offers no clues regarding Simon, but I wonder if he mumbled and grumbled as the beam was placed on his shoulders. I wondered if he stared at Jesus and inwardly asked—“Why is this man condemned to die?” I wonder if he felt compassion for the man who was bloody, bruised and bludgeoned?
Whatever his reaction was, it is safe to say that Simon probably felt he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. There’s no way he could have known how far he had to carry the Cross and the events that would soon take place. Let me ask a question: “How similar are our life events to Simon’s situation?” Ponder this—we are surprised in life by situations that hijack and disrupt our best intentions. We bear and carry loads that we never anticipated. Life is full of twists and turns as our story unfolds.
Jesus was crucified on that fateful Friday in order to bring hope and salvation to a world that was crushed under unbearable burdens. As we navigate life we have more than burdens and obstacles in our path. We have the curse of sin eating away at us like a terminal disease. Without Jesus and his atoning sacrifice, we all are “dead-men” walking. The beauty of the Easter story is that God (our creator) took the fall for us. How ironic is it that Simon the Cyrene helped Jesus carry a Cross that would be the instrument God used to save him?
I’m almost positive that Simon walked away from the Cross at Calvary unaware of what he did that day. But don’t we know that sentiment as well? We walk through seasons of life and often question the burdens we have to carry. Let us remember that there is an eternal narrative that is being written. While we face challenges, difficulties and hardship—God calls us to faithfulness and obedience. God is in control and he gives us strength in everything we face. I am reminded of what God says in Jeremiah 29:11—“I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Keep looking up!