Many times, unexpected incidents have the potential to change our lives forever. While reading this a few names and places may pop up in our minds. In this season of Lent, let us look at the person about whom the Bible mentions three times and is worth looking at – Simon of Cyrene.
Carrying the Cross with Jesus
Simon of Cyrene (present-day Libya) had a life-changing moment on the Via Dolorosa by carrying the Cross of Christ. Most likely, he could have visited Jerusalem in great anticipation of the Passover Celebration.
The crowds were taunting the Lord as He was bearing the weight of His cross; floggings and extreme humiliation would have drained Jesus of His strength to carry the Cross up to Golgotha. The Roman officials were keen to execute their goal of the crucifixion ‘perfectly’ and preferred that it should not be hindered in any way. So, they spotted this ‘stranger’, picked him up, and transferred the Cross of Jesus to him.
This sudden-violent experience would have left Simon puzzled. He would have been nearly paralyzed in his psyche and physique by the pressing weight of the Cross as he carried it to its destination. However, sooner he would have gained profound insights about following Jesus. Yes, by literally walking with Jesus and carrying His cross, Simon would have begun to understand the nuances of following Jesus much better.
Co-sufferers with Jesus
Simon followed Jesus. He would have witnessed the unfair trial, ill-treatment of Jesus and he would have been perturbed at the injustice meted out to Jesus. As he was walking close to Jesus, engrossed in pondering over this brutality, soon he found himself like Jesus. The Gospel writers’ use of words like ‘compelled’, ‘forced’, ‘was seized’ make it plain that Simon was pressed into service and he didn’t volunteer. He would have been jolted by this insolence, to carry the Cross of Jesus.
As a result, we may understand that God’s ultimate plan requires us to pass through moments of injustice. When Simon observed the utterly unfair treatment of Jesus; little did he know that he himself would become part of the journey of carrying the Cross.
Jesus has prepared us for fiery tests, fierce opposition, unfair trials, false charges, etc. As we have received better revelation; being shaken by such antagonism is unwarranted. Moreover, such situations can shape our lives and embolden us to move forward. We are not called to be onlookers but co-sufferers with Jesus and His disciples of our time.
Commitment to Suffer for Jesus
Jesus taught self-denial and carrying the Cross (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23) are marks of a disciple. Having imparted the idea, Jesus went on to demonstrate that what He taught was feasible. This act exemplified the undeniable reason to emulate Him.
Right beside Jesus, Simon of Cyrene carried the heavy cross, a symbol of shame signifying death. In a rude shock, Simon of Cyrene experienced first-hand what it was like to follow Jesus literally.
Self-denial is willing to risk our fixed schedule, cosy comforts, resetting of priorities, realignment of life goals, etc. Here Simon’s example reiterates the urgency and quality of commitment to suffer, even at a high cost.
John Piper says, “The call to suffer for Jesus is often sudden and costly and seemingly random.” So it is time to check our attitude and embolden our faith even when injustice seems to be the norm during this season of Lent.
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