Simon of Cyrene definitely selected the short end of the stick. He was standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jesus had been tried by Pilate who recognized Jesus’ innocence yet ordered him to be flogged violently (often leading to death by itself) for being a nuisance to him. This was after being mocked, cut unmercifully with a crown of thorns imbedded in his skull and struck multiple times by the Jews and Roman Soldiers. Pilate washed his hands refusing to be responsible and turned Him over to the Jews who were intent on killing this Jesus. Earlier, they had released a hardened, incorrigible criminal named Barabbas rather than Christ. Instead, Jesus was turned over to the Roman Soldiers who treated Him harshly. Then, outside of their quarters began their journey with God’s Son barely alive throbbing with excruciating pain all over his mangled body, and a cross thrust on his shoulders 425 yards from the Sheep Gate in the wall around Jerusalem. Jesus slowly made it to the Gate but fell before carrying the cross up a very steep hill to the place of crucifixion 45 yards beyond the Sheep Gate.
The Roman Soldiers looked around and noticed a man named Simon. Here’s how the Bible explains what happened next in Mark 15:21, “And they (the soldiers) compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.” Simon was from a thriving, beautiful African city on the Mediterranean Coast called Cyrene. He was simply trying to pass by in the midst of bedlam going on all over Jerusalem. Suddenly, an absolutely bludgeoned, emaciated man was thrust through the Sheep Gate under the burden of a very heavy, rugged cross. All the folks were screaming with absolute vitriol to murder this decimated, distorted man with a bloody crown of thorns buried in skull by a horrible death on a cross. These soldiers pointed to Simon (obviously a powerful man) and commanded him to carry the heavy cross up the hill so that this man named Jesus Christ could be crucified. He recognized that he did not have much choice and had to move with as much haste as possible. Matthew 27:32 says that “They compelled this man (Simon) to carry his cross.” So, Simon bore the cross of Jesus up the hill to Golgotha, “the skull”.
Do you ever feel like Simon? You are a “passerby” whether in a grocery store, in an airport, at a school function, watching a sporting event, etc. and the Holy Spirit asks you to take up a cross and sacrificially be Him in this world. “But, I don’t feel like getting involved…it’s not a good time for me.” Yeah, but Jesus wants you to. He daily gives you a choice to be Him to the world or blend into the crowd.
Actually, John 9:23-24 says that we are called each and every day as Simon was compelled to do for Jesus, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and TAKE UP HIS CROSS DAILY and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” All of us have to behave like Simon Cyrene carrying the cross of Jesus to this world daily…