Do you know who Simon of Cyrene is? He is mentioned in three verses of scripture and we learn very little about him from those three verses. He was from Cyrene, which was founded in c.630 BCE as a colony of the Greek island town Thera. He was the father of Alexander and Rufus, although we know nothing about them. And he was forced by the soldiers to carry the cross of Jesus to Golgotha [Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, and Luke 23:26]. Simon didn’t choose to carry this cross, according to these verses; he was forced. We don’t know if he was there to witness the crucifixion or if he was making his way to the marketplace and just happened to be grabbed along the way. We don’t know if he was a follower of Christ or one who shouted “Crucify” with the crowd. All we know is he was there and he was chosen.
Can you imagine being literally covered by the blood of Christ? Looking in the eyes of Jesus just minutes before He was nailed to a cross? What would have gone through your mind? The cross had to be heavy and sometimes awkward or difficult to hold onto. It was probably covered and possibly even dripping with His blood as a result of His wounds. Lots of people were watching the whole time Simon carried it. He was constantly under the scrutiny of others. What would you have done? Would you have considered it an honor to carry His cross or a burden?
How do you feel today when you’re asked to carry His cross? We’re told in three of the four Gospels if we want to follow Christ we must deny ourselves, pick up the cross and follow Him [Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23]. We are not forced, like Simon of Cyrene. We have a choice. The choice is to follow Jesus and carry the cross or refuse the cross, but to refuse the cross is to refuse Jesus. In Luke 14:27 Jesus said, “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.”
Just like Simon, we have people constantly watching as we carry the cross. It isn’t always popular or accepted. Sometimes it is difficult or awkward to manage, but still we are called to carry it. Every day you wake up, you are faced with the choice to carry the cross or put it aside. What will you do?