Last year in the bible study I attend (Bible Study Fellowship) we studied Matthew and the story of Jesus, His birth, His life as a human, and His death.
I had never really studied deeply Jesus and His life. I was raised in a wonderful Christian home and new all about Jesus and His ministry and all He meant to this world. Or at least I thought I did.
Studying Matthew (with Mark, Luke, and John) I fell in love with Jesus. I have mentioned that before in one of my blogs that I fell for Him. Not in the romantic way but in my 'He saved me' way. It was so indepth and just breaking down what He did on this earth while he was on it was awe inspiring.
I could go on and on about how awesome Jesus is, and its the perfect day to do that. Its Easter Sunday. For those that believe in Jesus, this is the day we recognize as His resurrection day. The day he raised from the dead and changed everything. So yes its a good day for telling about Jesus.
But I'm going to talk about a guy named Simon.
Jesus got arrested-was questioned-stood trail for His life-was mocked and screamed at-beat to a bloody pulp-beaten some more-and was handed over by the people to be nailed to a cross and die.
So with that little snip it of info there was a man named Simon (from a place called Cyrene) was in the area when Christ was on His way to the cross. He was in the area because he was on a pilgrimage for the passover to Jerusalem like many Jews doing that at this time. He know he was Jewish and he had two sons named Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15:21 tells this). So he probably knows there is this man that is causing lots of controversy and is going to die because he claims to be Christ, Messiah. Which if your Jewish (Jesus is Jewish) is blasphemy. He may not have noticed or known anything though also. He could have just been out of the loop on what was going on in the city. Who knows.
But regardless what he knew he played a part in getting Jesus to that cross to be hung.
So he's walking or in a crowd, again does not say in the bible, and then all of a sudden here comes this man with these soldiers down the street. This man is bloody, and dragging a cross to his death. This man could not carry his cross because he was so weak and beaten. And those crosses were heavy. So these soldiers just grab a guy from the side of the street and make him carry this cross for this man.
The guy chosen was Simon. The man was Jesus.
Simon before this event didn't have any regard for Jesus, He may not have even known about him. He probably didn't. So being forced by soldiers to carry this heavy cross for this convicted felon was probably not high on his list of things to do.
But when a Roman solder tells you to do something, and your Jewish, you do it, Jews weren't highly regarded by Romans. So Simon picks up this cross, drags it and I picture he probably walked in front of this man named Jesus as he was walking to the place where the crucifying happens.
Simon knew how gruesome these death sentences were. Crucifying was a very common practice among the Romans. So Simon knew this guy he was carrying this cross for was in for it. I'm sure it was awkward for him. Awkward in the physical sense. He had this man slowly dragging behind him who was so beaten he was barely recognizable. and he was carrying this awkward big piece of wood for some distance. It was awkward in the mental sense to. I like to think he thought 'really?! I have the worse luck!' in regard for having to do this. Who wants to be apart of a death sentence. I mean if I had to even witness a lethal injection I would be so faint and sad. Even if I knew the person getting the ax and knew he deserved it, man seeing death and gruesomeness isn't easy.
So with all that Simon carries that cross to the sight and drops that big piece of awkward wood and we don't know if he stays for the death or not.
So in Romans chapter 16 verse 13 Simon's son Rufus is described. He is described as being chosen for the Lord. His mother is mentioned to as 'being a mother to me'. Paul who wrote this scripture is stating that Rufus is apart of the early church and his mom was nice and helped him while he was in the area.
So that tells us that Rufus, son of this cross carrying Simon, believes in Jesus. So does his mom. They helped Paul who followed Jesus.
Okay so those are stated facts.
Simon, well we don't again know if he stayed for the death of this man Jesus. But I like to think he did. Many were crowded around the crucifying spot and I'm thinking Simon had to come all this way he might as well see it be finished. It wasn't uncommon for people to want to watch this kind of death.
Jesus is nailed to the cross-hangs there-at the sixth hour darkness came over the land.
Darkness. It was during the day. For three hours it was dark. I'm thinking Simon took notice to that know matter where he ended up. When this man named Jesus did die finally the curtain in the temple tore in two at the same moment. Now I can most definitely assume being that Simon was Jewish learned of this. The temple and the the curtain that divided the Holy place from the Most Holy Place was super important to Jews. Like super important.
So there was this darkness. There was said to be storms and earth quakes in the area. The curtain ripped. He had to have known this man named Jesus was something.
I don't know if he walked away that day believing in Jesus as what Jesus claimed to be, but I know eventually the good news of Jesus got to his wife and son Rufus. They believed. Most likely Simon did believe. Maybe not that day, or maybe. Who knows. But his sons were both a huge part of the early church for Jesus Christ.
So when I was studying this last year and learned of Simon. I was struck by being like Simon. At the time I was a believer, but I was not really living my life for Jesus. it was spring last year when I studied this part of scripture and the whole refining did not happen till June 25th, 2014. But my heart burned reading about Simon being chosen or forced really to carry the cross.
My first thought was 'I want to carry that cross for Jesus, I wanted to be there and help in some way.' I knew my sins were the reason he was led and hung on that cross so I thought why not help Jesus carry that cross to atleast be some what helpful!
I imagine Simon after the event and again don't know the time frame but eventually realizing he carried Jesus cross. He carried the Messiah's cross!!!! I'm sure it was humbling, eye opening, and I can only bet Simon wish he would have said something sweet to his savior.
If I imagine myself Simon and carrying that cross, and unlike Simon at the time, knowing who Jesus really was, I would like to think I would tell him:
I love you Jesus, and wish you didn't have to die this way.
I don't deserve any of this.
I deserve to be beaten to a bloody pulp, mocked, and nailed to this cross.
I would want to clean up His face with all the blood on it and take off the crown of thorns.
I would want to carry him somehow to the cross so He didn't have to drag himself.
But I wasn't there. I wasn't Simon. In fact I probably would have been one of the many who yelled "crucify him". I have the bible now, and bible study, and the Holy spirit living in me, so its much easier to assume I would have said all those sweet things to Jesus on the way to the cross. But back then I would have probably thought this human man who claims to come from heaven and be the one to save the world, well I would have thought he was nuts.
So I am thankful to be on the other side of the cross.
To have the actual Bible. To know the Good News of Jesus.
I think of this verse regarding Simon.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. Matthew 16:24-26
Right now in this refining that Jesus is doing to me I feel like most days I'm carrying that heavy, awkward cross. Lugging it around. Being convicted by the Holy Spirit several times a day. Wanting to empty myself of me and put on Christ.
It is a sweet thing this year to restudy the part on Simon and be in a totally different spot for
Christ. Last year I just wanted to help. Jesus felt my heart burn and my want to carry my cross. And a few short months later He changed my heart in a radical way. He is so good with timing.
I feel like Simon now. I like to think he eventually believed in Jesus and just wanted to tell everyone of this man. This Saving One. The guy who rose again and is Christ the Lord. I many days want to just shake Jesus into people in my life. I want them to see what I see. Feel what I feel.
Many think I look at Jesus and this process as a hobby. A phase. No! Jesus won't let go of me. I might being carrying my own cross, but really He is carrying me the whole way. He is the only ONLY thing that truly matters in my life. He is my first love. My savior.
I'm so jealous that Simon got to carry His cross. What a privilege to have been chosen to do that!
But I'm just thankful Jesus chose me to believe. He chose me. I'm so awful and sinful. And my nasty sins that I commit day after day were and are the reason he was nailed to that cross.
I'm thankful for this Easter Sunday. For the Cross. Its meaning. For Simon. And for this Refining.
Because of Christ,