“Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross.” Mark 15:21
There you are basically minding your own business, as you’re navigating your way to the place you’re planning to stay, in Jerusalem, during the Passover. Sure you’re curious about what’s going on. Who wouldn’t be? The streets are packed with people, all riled up and shouting that some person get what’s coming to him. You’re not sure what it’s all about until you see three men, surrounded by Roman guards, carrying timber cross pieces down the narrow streets. Criminals are on their way to be crucified.
But one of the cross bearers is staggering under his load. You can tell by the way he moves that he’s never going make it down the street, let alone out of the city and up the hill to the place of execution. And then, right in front of you, just like you thought would happen, the man’s legs crumple beneath him and he crashes onto his face beneath the heavy cross beam.
This is apparently not the first time this has happened because with a shake of his head and a curl of his lip one of the guards cuts the ropes binding the cross to the man and then, looking up, points his knife directly at you and commands, “You! Carry that cross!”
You want to protest. You want to run away. Right then you want to do anything but carry that cross but it’s useless, even dangerous, to argue with the Roman guard, so you wrap your fingers around that rough, blood stained timber and lifting it to your shoulder you carry that cross.
If asked, we could say, “yes,” to it being a case of being in the right place to help someone in need? But we could not say, “yes,” if we were asked, to it being a case of our being mixed up in something that had nothing to do with us?
Jesus, on that day, was in fact, carrying a cross that by rights ought to have been assigned to one of us. So when Simon carried Jesus’ cross he was carrying a burden that should have been his own.
Put yourself in Simon’s place now. How do you feel knowing that the cross you bear, upon which Jesus will die, is actually your cross not his? Do you feel grateful? Grieved? Guilty? Humbled? Heartbroken? Perhaps you feel awestruck. Amazed. Overwhelmed.
And you should. The angels worship Jesus more profoundly because of his sacrifice and so should we.