Prepare to Listen. Be assured of God’s nearness as we walk a road of restrictions and suffering with Jesus: I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. (Psalm 116:1)
Prayerfully Read Matthew 27:27-37
27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. 28They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ 30They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. 32As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; 36then they sat down there and kept watch over him. 37Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’
I wonder about Simon of Cyrene, the man compelled to carry Jesus’ cross. Was he merely passing by, the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did he refuse to take the cross that Jesus carried? Was that why the soldiers compelled him? Or, perhaps trying to get away, did he catch Jesus’ eye and see the exhaustion, weakness and also the compassion in it? Did it change his mind so that he willingly lifted the weight from Jesus’ wounded back? What went through Simon’s head as he took up what Jesus could no longer bear?
Many of us today, especially those of us who live with prosperity (if not wealth), which is most of us in the Western World, talk about carrying the cross as though it were no big deal. We’ve known little unremitting suffering and hardship. Until covid-19. Like Simon of Cyrene, we’ve been compelled to take up the cross and walk beside Jesus, sharing his burden, his pain and grief for the world. It is the way to resurrection and life.
An unknown stranger was the only one at Jesus’ side, bearing his burden; the only one walking with him to Golgotha, the Place of the Skull. Was Peter still following at a distance? Did he want to rush in to help or did his fear keep him out of sight? Simon (interestingly, the same name as Simon Peter) took up a cross not his own; the cross of man he didn’t know. I wonder whether that changed him and whether he remained at the cross and saw Jesus die?
Today we’re compelled to carry Jesus’ cross, which may mean carrying a cross for a suffering stranger. What do you think you need today to walk this way of the cross with and for Jesus?
Respond to Jesus
Thank you, Lord, for Simon of Cyrene who, however reluctantly, carried your cross. Help me today, however reluctantly, take up a cross of another who can no longer bear it. May I walk the way of the cross with and for you and thereby find life and freedom even in these restricted and painful days. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world. Carry the cross you’re compelled to carry.
Because I believe that Scripture is food for our soul (our entire being) I seek to read it and encourage others to read it in ways that nourish and transform our beings. I invite you to read the Bible with me during Lent and into Easter. I am a Bible teacher, spiritual companion and retreat director. I know the Bile and how to read it for spiritual formation.