“…And they forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.”
Mark 15:21 NLT
I never really thought much about Simon of Cyrene.
He’s only referenced three times in the Bible – Mark 15:21, Matt 27:32, and Luke 23:26 – all for the same reason. He was chosen randomly from the crowd and forced to carry Jesus’ cross for him when Jesus was too weak and weary to carry it.
What an emotionally layered act. On the one hand, Simon was able to provide the tiniest big of relief to Jesus in his final hours. On the other hand, he helped carry the thing that Jesus was about to be executed on. I can only imagine what must’ve been going through Simon’s head.
- Was he grateful for the opportunity to relieve Jesus of a tiny bit of suffering?
- Did he consider throwing the cross to the ground and fighting the whole death procession – protesting Jesus’ unfair punishment?
- Did he catch Jesus’ eye as he walked with him and his cross? Did they exchange a grimace?
- Was any part of him resenting the heavy, dirty task he got dragged into because of Jesus?
I wonder which of those thoughts I might’ve had if I were Simon that day.
You know what, though? Every time I feel rejected, misunderstood, falsely accused, or experience suffering of any kind because of my association with Jesus, I am Simon. I get to experience a tiny piece of what Jesus’ suffering was for being associated with us. I have a chance to feel a sliver of the weight Jesus fell under as he dragged his cross.
- Do I feel grateful for the chance to understand Jesus’ suffering – the suffering he took willingly because it meant saving me?
- Do I become amped up to fight for the widows, orphans and distressed in Jesus’ name?
- Do I take a moment to just meditate on the fullness of his love for me – that he would be tortured and killed all for me?
- Do I resent being misjudged, bullied or looked down upon because of my association with Jesus?
These thoughts could lead me to one of two conclusions: Guilt or Gratitude.
Guilt: I couldn’t have done what Jesus did. I’m not sure I could’ve even done what SIMON did. Jesus didn’t deserve that and I don’t deserve his grace. Jesus’ cross makes me feel shame and guilt – I don’t want to think about it. I’m a horrible person.
Gratitude: I WAS a horrible person. I couldn’t have done what Jesus did. I’m not sure I could’ve even done what Simon did. Jesus didn’t deserve that and I don’t deserve his grace. Jesus’ cross makes me see and feel incredible, super-human unconditional love – I want to think about it. I’m an incredibly valuable, deeply loved person.
I know which one of those two things God wants me to think. I also know which one of those two things the devil wants me to think.
This week my prayer is that we all can spend every moment GRATEFUL, not guilt-ful, for the cross that we have all been touched by.
Dear Lord, you know how easy it is for me to feel overwhelmed with guilt and shame. It so quickly consumes me and all the opportunities you’ve given me to feel gratitude instead. You died because you love me; you don’t resent me for that. Please make me strong in the battle against guilt. Flood my soul with gratitude. Help me live the full life you died to give me. Amen.