“As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.” Luke 23.26
Simon from Cyrene is depicted in some shows about Christ as a large, dark skinned man from northern Africa now known as Libya, who is pulled from the crowd to carry the cross for Jesus. We can only guess that Jesus has been beaten to the point of exhaustion and to carry his own cross at this point would have been almost impossible. Simon was a Jew traveling home but got caught up in the crowd and selected as one of many to carry the cross behind Jesus.
Consider the impact of carrying another person’s cross. People would initially look at you and think you were the guilty party. Then they would look around and see the one who had been flogged, beaten and prepared for crucifixion. They would see Jesus, in this case, and know that he was the one who was to be killed.
But the shame of being associated with a criminal, an accused sinner, it would be very degrading to carry the cross for someone like this. I don’t know a one of us who would elect to do it. But in this case, and because it was Jesus’ cross, Simon from Cyrene, represents us all. He represents the whole of humanity, who are guilty of sin. His carrying the cross is symbolic of us carrying our own crosses. Yet carrying the cross for Simon was the easy part, the difficult part was Jesus’ death on that cross.
If we were forced to carry a cross, we, unlike Jesus, would be guilty of sin and justified for such a punishment. We, in our disobedience, have no excuse. For a sin payment must be made. God requires it. But aren’t we glad we do not have to pay it with our lives? Aren’t you thankful that you can lean on Jesus to cover your debt? He did this once and for all. One death for the sins of many.
Today I am thankful for Jesus and thankful for Simon. Thankful for these two men who not only represent my sin but who covered my payment. That Jesus would love us enough that he would go willingly and without a fight or struggle to the hill to die is the gift of salvation and grace.
”O Lord God, I am so grateful to you. Thank you for taking my sins and covering the offering with your love. Thank you for loving me and for taking the pain, the suffering and death in my place. Help me live thankful today, encouraged by your love for me, and with gratitude for the goodness of God who died for the sins of the world so we might have salvation and freedom in your name. For you are good and your love endures forever. Amen”