Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Bearing Jesus’ Cross

The torturous journey of over half a mile from Pilate’s Judgment Hall  to the execution hill, Golgotha (Hebrew)  Calvary (Latin)  has begun.  Jesus, led by the Romans soldiers, is bearing His cross; either the entire 300 pound cross or at least the 100 pound cross piece.  Perhaps the upright piece of the cross is already in the ground.  We do not know, but probably it is the cross piece that Jesus is bearing. In either case, the weight of that cross on His exhausted, lacerated and bruised body is almost beyond human endurance. As He begins his painful journey, He stumbles and perhaps falls beneath the load.

SIMON OF CYRENE

The Roman soldiers see a strong, muscular black man coming into the city as they are leaving the city towards Golgotha. Simon has no idea of what is going on.  They commandeer Him to help Jesus carry His cross.  It may appear to be a random draw on the part of the soldiers, but there is nothing random about God’s will. 

Simon of Cyrene is from the area of Lybia in North Africa. His name is Jewish, so he is probably a Jew coming to Jerusalem to observe the Passover.  Mark 15:21 further identifies him as the father of  Alexander and Rufus, implying that the reader should know his sons.

Mark wrote his Gospel in Rome about 50-60 AD.  Romans was written by Paul about 56 AD.  So the readers of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans would know who Rufus was when he is mentioned by Paul in his greetings in Romans 16:13.  “Greet Rufus, an elect, choice man in the Lord. Also “greet his mother and mine,” Paul adds.  That would be Simon of Cyrene’s wife who was like a mother to Paul.

What happened to Simon who carried that cross for Jesus that day?  Let me surmise.  Having carried Jesus’ cross, Simon was transfixed by this man. He, no doubt,  stood close by and watched as Jesus was nailed to the cross.  He stood there, taking in everything He said and watching Him die.   I have no doubt that by the time Jesus died;  Simon, as well as the Centurion who directed the execution,  had both come to know and receive Jesus as the Son of God and as the Saviour of the world who  had come to die for sinners,   Simon went from there a changed man.

Later Simon was, no doubt, among the Christians who came from Cyrene to Antioch with the Gospel, as recorded in Acts 11:19-21.   No doubt, he was among the Christians who fasted and prayed and sent out Paul and Barnabas as missionaries in Acts 13:1-2.   Simon had not only borne the cross of Jesus, but now he was taking up his own cross and following Jesus.

If the Rufus and Alexander of the New Testament were the sons of Simon, as mentioned in Mark 15:21,  then those two sons responded differently to the Gospel.   Though both sons had the same godly influence of their parents,  Rufus became a devoted follower of Christ.  Alexander became an enemy of the Gospel and was an enemy of the Apostle Paul, we read in I Timothy 1:18-20  and  II Timothy 4:14-15. 

THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM

Let’s return now to the people who followed Jesus as He agonizingly walked to Golgotha, carrying His cross.   In the procession were the daughters of Jerusalem, mourning His impending death.  These were not just Mary and the other female friends of Jesus; they were the professional mourners who took part in events such as this, mourning those who were going to be crucified.   They probably had sympathy and respect for Jesus as they recognized  and appreciated His moral beauty.  They followed behind Jesus, beating their chests and wailing in sympathy for Him.

Jesus does not want their sympathy and He does not thank them for it.  Instead, He turns to them and commands them to stop weeping for Him. He tells them in Luke 23:28-31 to “weep for yourselves and your children.”

Jesus was making it plain that He was not the victim, but they were.  Jesus had wept over them many times through His ministry.  Now He tells them to weep for themselves for judgment is about to fall on them. Less than forty years later in 70 AD, the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem and burned it to the ground and killed most of the population, including the women and children.  

He tells them that those women who were barren will be better off than the mothers, as they see their children massacred.

He also prophesies that there is coming a time, even worse than the Roman invasion of Jerusalem, when at the end of the Great Tribulation  the judgment will be far more severe than what took place in 70 AD.  He is talking about the coming judgment on the world when He returns at the end of the Tribulation, as described in Revelation 6:12-17.

THE CROSS WE MUST BEAR

We have considered the cross of Jesus that Simon bore.  Let’s consider the cross that we Christians are called to bear today.  The cross is not our pain or misfortune that everyone, saved and unsaved, are called to bear. That is not our cross.  Trials and trouble come to all of us, at one time or another as human beings, saved or unsaved.

Ladies, the cross you are called to bear is not simply that beautiful piece of jewelry that  you wear around your neck. It is much more than that for both men and women.

The cross that Jesus is calling us to bear is our public identification with Him as our Saviour and Lord.  Every true Christian is crucified with Christ. Read Romans 6 and Galatians 2:30 in regards to this.  In Luke 14:25-27 Jesus calls all who belong to Him to take up their cross of identification with Him daily and follow Him.

Our cross involves denying ourselves, our preferences, our desires, our wills and welcoming a life of self denial for Him.  Read Luke 9:23, Matthew 16:24,  10:32-39 and I Corinthians 4:9-14.   Paul welcomed the privilege in Philippians 3:10.

Unlike Simon of Cyrene, no one is going to compel or force  you to bear the cross of Christ. It is a choice that you must make.    Simon’s son, Rufus, chose to carry that cross.  His other son,  Alexander,  chose to reject the cross and live his own selfish, rebellious life, being a burden to those who loved him.

May God help you to trust Christ and choose to bear the cross of  Christ by publicly identifying yourself as a Christian.

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April 25, 2010 - Posted by | Passion Week

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