WILL YOU CARRY THE CROSS?
(Mat 27:32) Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross.
When Jesus was finally sentenced to be crucified by Pilate He was led out of the city of Jerusalem to Golgotha to join the offenders suffering for their crimes. It was common for the one sentenced to carry the cross that they were to be crucified on. (John 19:17) And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. Along the way Jesus became weak from the beatings He had suffered all that night and morning and He just couldn’t shoulder the weight any longer.
You can imagine the Roman soldiers becoming impatient with Jesus. They probably pushed and prodded Him, all the while scorning Him and shouting at Him. But the Lord wasn’t able to go on. He needed help to carry His cross. The soldiers looked around and found a fellow passing along the way. The Romans had the power to compel people into service if there was a need, and sure enough there was this man who was in the right place at the right time.
Simon was a Jewish man who lived in Cyrene. Cyrene was a city of Libya, in Africa, lying west of Egypt. There were many Jews there and they were in the habit of going frequently to Jerusalem, especially at the feast times (Acts 2:10). In fact the Jews from Cyrene had their own synagogue in Jerusalem to worship in (Acts 6:9). So here comes Simon in his usual manner but this time he finds himself caught up in the drama of the moment. You can imagine him wondering as to the commotion of the crowd and going over to check it out and he sees a man on the ground unable to carry his instrument of torture and death. Then all of a sudden Simon is compelled into service to help carry the cross of Christ. According to Luke 23:26 it looks like he took the tail end of the cross and together Simon and Jesus walked the road.
This experience made a deep impact on this man Simon and he doubtless became a follower of Christ. Mark mentions his two sons, Alexander and Rufus (Rom 16:13). But this time he wouldn’t have to be compelled! (2 Cor 5:14) For the love of Christ compels us . . .
Jesus had taught his followers to carry their cross for Him: (Luke 9:23) Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. This would mean their share of sufferings for His name and to be dead to sin and the ways of the world that are bent on evil. Paul would pick up on this and proclaim: I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. (1 Cor 15:31)
Will you carry the cross for Jesus? And will you bear it every day out of love for Him? (Heb 13:13) Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.