A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. Mark 15:21-24
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
When we think about people who walked with Jesus, we tend consider those who wanted to be with Him and spent a great amount of time with Him. Simon the Cyrene, however, was someone seized and forced to be with Jesus. He was traveling into Jerusalem to prepare for Passover when he encountered a procession. Jesus had a need, and a soldier’s eye gazed upon Simon. He was then commissioned to carry Jesus’ cross. He walked all the way to Golgotha and laid the cross down just before the soldiers nailed Jesus to it to die in a horrific public display.
Although their time together was short, we can gain truth from Simon’s encounter with Jesus. Simon was an unknown man when he entered Jerusalem that morning, but after carrying Jesus’ cross a short distance, he now has an ageless name. He will forever be connected with Jesus’ sacrifice for us all. We are all given a new name when we accept Jesus’ free gift of eternal life. We may all take different routes to get there, but He meets us where we are, in those life-changing moments, and frees us from the bondage of our sins. Now we have significance because we are known as followers of Jesus, and every time we encounter Jesus by spending time in his presence, we are changed.
None of us can relive history and carry Jesus’ literal cross like Simon did, yet we are all called to take up our cross daily, according to Matthew 16:24. We are also all called to help others encounter Jesus, even for just a brief moment in time. Simon was asked to do what Jesus in a physical body could not do at that moment. Right now, we have an incredible opportunity to serve as His hands and feet here on earth. We can be Jesus with skin on. We can spread the gospel, the Good News of Jesus and his love for all mankind. In so doing, we can see others’ lives impacted by the power of the cross and Jesus’ resurrection to new life.
Today’s Prayer: Father, thank You for what You did on the cross. When I come to the cross, each time I believe that I am changed. I know that I have significance in You. Please reveal more of Yourself to me as I spend time with You so that I might grow to be more like You. Help me also to be Your representative to my family, neighbors, coworkers, friends and even strangers that I meet. One encounter is all it takes to be eternally changed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.