Hidden Heroes of Easter – Simon of Cyrene
Part Four of our Hidden Heroes of Easter Series
A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. Mark 15:21 (NIV)
One sentence. That’s all. Simon of Cyrene is mentioned in three of the gospels, but this is all we know: his name, where he was from, the names of his sons, and what he was forced to do. When he was chosen as cross bearer, Simon was just “passing by on his way in from the country.” Probably not his plan for the day. He did not volunteer for this task. In fact, the word “forced” sure makes it sound like he tried to resist.
In later years when he looked back, I wonder if his knees didn’t buckle at the wonder of it all. His was the great privilege of serving the Savior on the darkest day in history. What a high honor. He is remembered by name all these centuries later through the writings of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. I stand in amazement at the tale of a man conscripted for an apparently lowly assignment—and I see lessons for us in his tale as well.
Only one sentence and yet we know so much about him … how can that be? I believe this duty he did not seek or want, changed him. He was changed to the degree that his two sons, Alexander and Rufus, were well known to the early Christians. Mark refers to them with an assurance that his readers will say, “Seriously? Alexander and Rufus’ dad carried Jesus’ cross? Wow.” Paul refers to a Rufus in Romans, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too” (6:13, NIV). It’s entirely possible that Simon’s experience bearing Jesus’ cross—and probably witnessing his death—brought Simon to faith. And a faith so strong, after watching Jesus die and perhaps learning of His resurrection, that he and his whole family, wife and children, believed.
On a day when the entire world went dark at midday, Simon was there. There in that supernatural darkness for those three hours. If he lingered after his cross bearing, he heard Christ cry out. He heard Christ forgive. Perhaps he heard Christ tell the thief on the cross that they would soon enter paradise together. How could anyone remain unchanged after witnessing the events of that day?
Have you ever had a duty thrust upon you that you neither sought nor wanted? Yeah, me too. I think every single human being has been given “assignments” they were not seeking. I have Meniere’s disease. I surely did not raise my hand high and say, “Choose me for that one”! I’ve watched family members go through great difficulties. I surely did not pray for great difficulties.
Yet, in “bearing the cross” we discover Christ’s strength, peace, comfort, love. Often, only when we are jerked out of our comfortable living are we forced to notice that the spiritual dimension of life actually matters more than the physical life to which we cling. We need to be reminded. We need to bear a cross or two in our lifetime.
Like Simon, in the end when we look back on how God has helped us in our times of need in those duties thrust upon us that we never sought or wanted, I believe our knees will buckle at the wonder of it all.
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it (Luke 9:23-24, NIV).
Oh, Lord, help me choose to take up your cross daily, to receive what You allow into my life with trust. Gladly, I lose my life, my plans, my own ideas and exchange them for Yours. My life is safest when I am following You. In Jesus, my Savior’s Name, Amen.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
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