Bearing The Cross – Simon of Cyrene
By Toby Crowder
As we celebrate the Easter season each year, many stories and characters from the Bible claim our attention that we may not otherwise consider. One such person is Simon of Cyrene; the man who was compelled to carry the cross of our Lord. In Marks’s account of this event, we read “And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.” (Mark 15:21). As we see Jesus’ physical body weakened from the beatings and overcome with exhaustion, we find that the guards instructed Simon to carry the cross for Him.
The Bible says that Simon was compelled to carry this cross: This means that he was probably ordered to do it by the Roman guards. The Greek word is angareuō and means “to employ a courier, dispatch a mounted messenger, press into public service, compel to go” It is actually a Persian word that details a courier who was commandeered to carry precious cargo. At this point, we do not know whether Simon was a follower of Christ, but he was constrained by the guards. As Simon was pushed into this decision that would forever change him, we observe a change in his direction. Notice that he was coming out of the country… but was compelled and made to go in a different direction. To carry the cross of Christ requires that we have a total change of direction. Notice Jesus’ words to the disciples when they were called:
Matt 16:24-25 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
Also, consider Paul and his conversion on the Damascus Road. When He accepted Christ, he had a definite change of direction in his life and only wanted to follow the leading of the Savior:
Acts 9:6 “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
As with Paul, I believe that this was a great “turning point” in the life of Simon. Spiritually speaking, no one can bear the cross of Christ without a change in their life and direction. In order to get under Jesus’ cross, Simon would have had to have a change of his plans… he had to deny himself and what he wanted. He was on his way out of the city, but he was compelled and turned back. For many who claim to be Christian today, there has been no true change of direction in their lives. If we are to be totally committed to carrying the Cross of Christ, it is going to cost us some things in life.
To the young person, it may cost them socially to be different from the crowd. To the older adult, it may cost you the “big job” or social connections and influence. Regardless of our age or station in life, carrying the cross of Christ in today’s world will cost us something!
Jesus repeatedly let his disciples know that by bearing His cross and following Him that they would be despised by the world: Luke 6:22 “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.”
James Calvert was a missionary to Fuji. The captain of his ship warned him of the coming dangers and that he would risk his life among the savages there… Calvert’s reply was “We died before we came here.”
On the day that Jesus fulfilled the will of the Father at Calvary, I believe that Simon the Cyrene died to himself… his wishes… and his direction, as he fell under the cross of the wounded Savior. Are we willing to die for Christ? Are we willing to submit to a change of direction and become what He wants and compels us to become? Are we willing to bear the cost of the cross?
Toby Crowder serves as Pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Spruce Pine. He and his wife Leslie have been married for 26 years and have two daughters, Emilee, and Katy. He can be contacted via the church’s website MCfamilyforChrist.org or firstname.lastname@example.org
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