Simon of Cyrene

April 15, 2011
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He was a stranger. I mean, I knew who He was. Who didn’t? He was known throughout the country and Jordan too. But, we weren’t close like He was with his disciples. For me, He was just a household name. I did believe what He taught. It was nothing like what the Pharisees and Sadducees taught us, but what He said made more sense.

Anyway, I’ll never forget that day. How can I, when I was there? It was the day after Passover. I was going to Jerusalem to make the annual sacrifice for my family’s sins. As I reached the city’s center, I heard the roar of the mob. I knew at once what was happening. The people were at Pilate’s house demanding the release of a prisoner as was custom. I had no idea that He was among the convicted. For all I knew, He was in some town far from Jerusalem. To be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about Him at that point in time. I decided to turn around, but as I was doing so, the mob was upon me. It was very crowded and I could only get to the side of the road. Forced to watch, I saw Roman soldiers coming down the street. Anyone lingering there was pushed roughly aside. I saw the tall beams of wood high above the soldier’s heads. It was then that I realized that I was witness to a death march; men were about to be executed for their crimes to society upon a cross.
Crucifixion was saved for only the worst criminals. It was a very painful and shameful way to die. First they marched you through the streets to the place of crucifixion. Then, they put large nails through your wrists and feet and raise you up. You hang there, desperately, fighting gravity because if you don’t hold yourself up, your lungs collapse. Again, I wished that I were not there, but due to the massive crowds, I physically could do nothing.
I began to wonder exactly why there were so many people. Crucifixion was not normally a public spectacle. I was soon given my answer, for behind two men was Him! He was there, on that awful road, carrying a cross, wearing a crown of thorns. I knew He had done no wrong, yet why was He walking this road meant for the worst of criminals?
As I pondered these questions, I saw Him fall under the weight of His cross. A soldier tried to force Him up, but He was obviously spent. The soldier glanced through the crowd with an angry stare. His eyes landed on me. Pushing his way to me, he screamed at me to pick up the cross. I looked at the soldier’s livid face, then at his drawn weapon, then at Him. At that moment, I remembered that He had done so many things for others, but I had never heard a story of someone doing something for Him. Perhaps, I could spare Him some agony before He was put on that terrible tree. So, I picked up His cross and followed the soldiers.
I looked over at Him as He walked by my side. He was exhausted, his back bloody from a flogging. He had just been through God only knows what else, and He was forced to carry this cross, which now pushed down heavily upon my back. I happened to look in His eyes. I saw nothing but love in them, which baffled me. I wanted to say something to encourage Him, but I couldn’t think of anything appropriate to say to a man about to die, albeit unrightfully.
We reached Golgotha; they took the cross from me and placed Him upon it. I stayed nearby. I felt obligated somehow. I watched as He called out to His Father, begging forgiveness on His executioners. When He died at about the ninth hour, I felt depressed, almost angry even. An innocent man had died. What good could there be in the world, and where was God? Where was God and why hadn’t He saved His Son? His Son… it was then I had the thought that perhaps God had a plan far bigger than I could comprehend in my grief and anger. He had stated quite often that He was the Son of God. If that were true, and I believed that it was, maybe something good would come of it. So, I walked away from the place of death and sorrow with a sense of hope for whatever plan God had for His Son and what He might have in store for me.

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