Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 (NIV)
We read these words, but do we really pay attention to what Jesus says here? Let us look at one who carried Jesus’ cross along the road to Golgotha.
Who is Simon of Cyrene?
Simon attended the Passover Feast in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.
Why did he do it?
He was ordered to by the Roman centurion in charge of the journey to Golgotha.
Where is Cyrene?
Cyrene was what is now modern-day Tripoli, located on the northern coast of Libya. (Daily Bible Commentary, Gospel of Luke, William Barclay p.335)
Why was he in Jerusalem?
To observe the Passover. He may have saved for a long time to be able to make this pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Barclay tells us, Simon, most likely. saved for many years to make this pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover. The account of the Simon’s conscription for this task by Mark tells us he had two sons, Alexander, and Rufus.
How did Simon feel when he was ordered to carry Jesus’ cross?
He could have felt anger toward the Roman centurion for making him do this task against his will. Maybe he had hard feelings against Rome (for taking over the government of Jerusalem).
How might he have felt when he was at Golgotha?
Was he caught up in the crowd that wanted to see Jesus crucified? He knew that crucifixion was a criminal’s death. Did he have compassion for Jesus that grew as He walked alongside Him, carrying His cross?
How did he react to what he heard?
“Father, forgive them.” Did Simon wonder how Jesus, a perfect man, could ask God to forgive the people for this travesty?
“They know not what they do.” Did Simon wonder what Jesus meant by saying this? These people were causing life to end for no reason.
“Mother, here is your son.” Jesus Christ made provisions for Mary to be taken care of in her later years of life. He voiced his wishes for everyone in the crowd to hear. Did Simon marvel at Jesus’ words?
“Here is you mother” Jesus spoke these words to John, but did Simon realize what was happening with these words? He may have had lots of time to ponder these words.
How did he feel when he heard that Christ had risen?
Simon must have realized that Jesus was truly the Son of God. We are told that Simon and his family became believers in Jesus. The Apostle Paul writes to the Romans they are to “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. (Romans 16:1)
We can conclude that Simon and his family became believers because of this event at the Passover Feast. The task Simon was ordered to do was not one he would have volunteered for. Because of that task, the kingdom of God was enlarged.
Sometimes in our Christian walk, we will be faced with a task we really do not want to do. We find ourselves doing it because we feel we must. Later, we find that we have grown from the experience. God uses even the tasks we find distasteful to enlarge His kingdom.