“They forced a man coming in from the country, who was passing by, to carry Jesus’s cross. He was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.” – Mark 15:21
Forced to carry a cross. This moment for Simon of Cyrene is anything but serene. Most scholars agree that what Jesus actually carried and was subsequently picked up by Simon was the crossbeam and not the entirety of the cross. However heavy it was, it was big enough to be considered part of the torture leading to the death of the condemned.
Have you ever thought about Simon, what he was going through, or what was on his mind? We at least know he was a father. Perhaps he was thinking he might not live through this moment as he was pressed into labor by notoriously brutal Roman soldiers (we will consider this again tomorrow). We don’t know, we can’t know. But we can imagine.
As we imagine, can you imagine how it struck Simon’s ears the first time he heard these words from Jesus? “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” What an incredible privilege Simon had, not only to deny himself and pick up a cross, but to carry Jesus’ cross himself! I imagine (as church history suggests) he taught many to be faithful disciples.
“Father, this day, give me the grace to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. Help me to disciple others to do the same. Amen.”