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Lessons From Simon

Have you ever been at the wrong place at the wrong time? That’s what happened to a man named Simon. He was traveling to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. As he was heading into the city, a large crowd was coming out. They were shouting and yelling at a man who was badly beaten. He was struggling to walk under the heavy load of the cross He was carrying. As he watched, the man must have fallen right in front of him, and it was clear He couldn’t go any further.

Matthew 27:32 says, “Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross” (NLT). The word “forced” catches my attention here. Jesus asked us to voluntarily take up our cross daily, but Simon was forced to do it. I believe that he stuck around to watch the crucifixion and later learned to take up his dross daily on his own.

If you think about it, He was also turned around. He was headed into the city, and because he carried the cross, he had to make an about face to head the other direction. When we accept Jesus as our savior, we are to repent of our sins. That word “repent” means to turn away and go the other direction. As Simon watched Jesus forgive those who crucified Him, he too repented of the sins he had committed and began to live different.

You and I have to learn to take up our cross daily, crucify our fleshly desires to it and turn away from those desires daily. When God’s spirit resides in us, there is a constant battle between His spirit and our flesh. If we’re willing to crucify our sinful nature and obey God’s voice, our lives will be forever changed. It’s up to each one of us to learn the lessons from Simon’s brief mention in the Bible. He is a picture of what God wants to do in each of our lives.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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The Via Dolorosa


As we walked down the Via Dolorosa, we visited many of the stations of the cross which are adhered to by Catholics. If you’re unfamiliar with this road or “stations of the cross”, it’s the route that Jesus was led down from Pilate’s court to Golgotha. As we walked this path, I kept thinking how hard it was for someone who wasn’t injured, much less a man who had been beaten within an inch of His life and awake all night.

As we got to station five, our guide, told us how archeological evidence shows that Jesus didn’t carry the cross over one shoulder like we’ve always imagined. The cross beam was tied to their hands with their arms outstretched. She said that in every case of remains that have been found of those crucified, their nose was broken as well as other facial bones. Because their hands were tied, they couldn’t protect their face from the fall. When she said that, my wife immediately reminded me that Scriptures say, not a single bone in His body would be broken.

At Station Five, we remember Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross for Jesus. I’ve always been shown that Jesus fell and Simon was told to carry it for Him. As I read through every Gospel account of the crucifixion, no where is it mentioned that He fell. They all say what Luke 23:26 says, “The soldiers led Jesus away, and as they were going, they met a man from Cyrene named Simon who was coming into the city from the country. They seized him, put the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus” (GNT). 

If Jesus had fallen, a bone would be broken. To fulfill Psalm 34:20, Simon was seized to carry the cross. As I thought about that, I thought of Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23. “And he said to them all, “If you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, take up your cross every day, and follow me.” If you and I are going to carry the cross of Christ, it’s not going to be an easy path. We may even fall and be broken. The true way of following Jesus is down the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering. It long, difficult, and heavy at times, but we have the promise that His grace will be sufficient in those times. 

 

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