Jesus Is Nailed to a Cross
(Matthew 27.31-44; Mark 15.21-32; John 19.17-27)
26As Jesus was being led away, some soldiers grabbed hold of a man named Simon who was from Cyrene. He was coming in from the fields, but they put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.
27A large crowd was following Jesus, and in the crowd a lot of women were crying and weeping for him. 28Jesus turned to the women and said:
Women of Jerusalem, don't cry for me! Cry for yourselves and for your children. 29Someday people will say, “Women who never had children are really fortunate!” 30 At that time everyone will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” They will say to the hills, “Hide us!” 31If this can happen when the wood is green, what do you think will happen when it is dry?
What happens when you have to pick up your cross and follow Jesus?
Even though Simon is only crossing paths with Jesus, having just come in to the city from the countryside, the Roman soldiers grab Simon as they lead Jesus away. They make him carry the crossbeam as Jesus can no longer carry this weight. The crowd’s jeers and screams that rain down on Jesus envelop Simon also. Having to follow Jesus outside the walls and up to Golgotha, Simon likely overhears, at the very least, Jesus’ words to the wailing women (v 28) and his declaration of forgiveness (vv 34-35).
The gospels simply tell us that Simon was from Cyrene and the father of Alexander and Rufus. He’d come in to the city from the countryside and was passing by Jesus when he was conscripted into service.
Scholars posit that Simon is one of the Antioch teachers and prophets proclaiming Jesus to the Greeks (Acts 11-13). In Romans 13, Paul fondly salutes Rufus and his mother, clearly followers of the Way in Rome. Our text does not tell us why the soldiers chose Simon. But we do know that choice turned Simon around. From out-of-town observer of the Passover to forced cross-bearer to prophet/teacher whose household followed Jesus. Simon’s life was never the same.
Obedience will do that to a soul.
O Lord, give us the grace to accept the cross-burdened turnarounds in our lives; those seasons of pain when circumstances stretch us beyond our human limits and you invite us to relinquish all we hold dear. In Jesus’ name. Amen.