Satisfied Superior Friday — or so we contact it. It is a joyful day, even if it is the most solemn day in the church calendar. We talked about reckoning the repulsion and the delight of the cross final time. Now we speak about one particular of the small stories of the crucifixion narrative, Pastor John, especially the figure of Simon of Cyrene.
A listener to the podcast writes us about it. “Hello, Pastor John! Reading by way of the story of the crucifixion this week, some thing caught my consideration that I had study more than lots of occasions. In Luke 23:26, amid the crucifixion occasion, we study, ‘And as they led [Jesus] away, they seized one particular Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the nation, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.’ I know that God is sovereign, and for that reason this was not an accident or a random detail added into the story. What’s the significance of Simon carrying Jesus’s cross? What does God want us to see right here?”
Well-known Simon of Cyrene
This was genuinely excellent for me to believe about since I’ve study that a hundred occasions and have not paused, like so lots of of these inquiries force me to do. And that is genuinely precious. Occasionally, when authors are reporting information, they give us clear clues and pointers as to why they are like these information and what they want us to understand from them. I do not see genuinely clear, decisive clues right here or in any of the Gospels for why the Gospel writers involve this truth.
“Jesus prayed that the horrors of suffering and death wouldn’t deter him from his obedience and his saving mission.”
A single of the motives for that might be that Simon, who carried the cross, might have turn out to be a nicely-identified presence in the early church so that the mere reference to his name functions as just one more historical proof. It would be like saying, “This man ideal there that you know, he carried the cross.”
The cause this might be the case is since in Mark 15:21 Simon is referred to as the father of Alexander and Rufus. That is an uncommon piece of data. I imply, it would be extremely odd for Mark to place that in unless he anticipated his readers to know who Alexander and Rufus have been. And Mark is at times connected with Peter as a Gospel writer, and Peter is connected with Rome, and in Romans 16, there’s a man named Rufus.
There are small items like that that result in people today to say, “Okay, this is an allusion to a man that everyone in the church knew.” He had turn out to be some thing of a identified particular person, and so you do not have to say something about him. It would be like saying, “He’s the one particular who carried the cross. Is not that awesome? You can go speak to him and ask him what it was like.”
But I suspect that in Luke’s thoughts there was a lot more going on than merely a historical hyperlink in between the crucifixion and a particular person who was identified as the father of Alexander and Rufus. Let me make some recommendations. And that is genuinely all they are. I’m prepared to make them as recommendations rather than pronouncements of certainties that I see.
It might be that these who listen to me could see a lot more than I see and make one particular of the recommendations move toward, “Oh, that genuinely was intended by Luke.” So I’m providing you homework to do (type of).
1. Served by a Foreigner
My initial suggestion is primarily based on Simon getting described as from Cyrene. That is a city in North Africa, today’s Libya. We do not know if he was Jewish or Gentile since the name Simon was widespread for Greeks and Jews.
We do not know if he was going to Jerusalem or lived there, but what we know is that the Gospels draw consideration to the truth that this man’s got a foreign origin. He’s an African. Luke may say, “Let it be noted that a foreigner served Jesus in his final hour — certainly, an African.” That is suggestion quantity one particular.
two. Choose Up Your Cross
Second, Luke is the only one particular of the Gospels that says Simon carried the cross behind Jesus. All the other Gospels that mention this just say he carried it. Does Luke want us to bear in mind Luke 9:23, exactly where he mentioned, “If any individual would come soon after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross every day and adhere to me”? In other words, is Luke suggesting to us this is a image of what discipleship is?
three. Sudden Suffering
Third, if we believe that Luke was pointing to this occasion as a parable of discipleship, like I just recommended, could the truth that Simon was selected so abruptly and unexpectedly for the heavy activity be Luke’s way of teaching us that we do not generally select the moment of our cross bearing?
“Simon was a genuine historical particular person, and he was there at a genuine historical moment.”
We do not generally select the moment of our suffering. They come upon us in unexpected approaches, frightening approaches, heavy approaches, painful approaches, seemingly random approaches. In other words, the truth that Simon was selected seemingly randomly — I imply, it just says he was coming in from the field, was coming in from the nation — that small added note appears to say, “This is random — you believe.”
This could be a lesson that just about every moment of our lives coming in from the nation, we ought to be prepared to be snatched into the service of Jesus in a painful way. And we just do not know when.
four. Kept Alive for the Cross
Fourth, I believe most people today would assume that demanding a person else to carry Jesus’s cross signifies he was at the breaking point, as well weak to finish the trek on his personal. But what we might not believe about as speedily is no matter whether this act to get Simon to assist was an act of compassion or cruelty or straightforward expediency. Here’s what I imply.
If he couldn’t carry his cross, somebody had to since these soldiers are charged, “Crucify him.” And if they say they let him die on the way, somebody is going to be ticked. Possibly it was just pure expediency: “We got to get this man up there to get him crucified.” Or it may have been a moment of compassion from one particular of the Roman soldiers.
Or — this is what I had not realized — Matthew Henry suggests it might be that they saw Jesus was about to die below the burden and they have been so bloodthirsty or fearful of punishment from Pilate that they wanted to make positive he survived for the remaining torture. In other words, just the opposite of compassion: “We’ve got to get nails by way of his hands and nails by way of his feet. We can not let this man just die right here of exhaustion below his cross.”
five. Heavenly Assistance
Fifth (my final suggestion), only Luke tells us that in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus is in agony and was helped by an angel as he prayed. In Luke 22:43, an angel came and helped him, sustained him, gave him strength. In Hebrews five:7 it says, “Jesus supplied up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was capable to save him from death, and he was heard since of his reverence.”
“The contact to endure for Jesus is generally sudden and expensive and seemingly random.”
He was heard since of his reverence, his godly worry. Now how does that operate? He prayed that God would save him from death and he was heard. Nicely, he died. I’ve argued in an short article at Desiring God that Jesus was saved from death in answer to his cry, not in the sense that he didn’t die, but in the sense that he was saved from the faith-destroying powers of death.
In other words, death loomed in front of him. And he was a human getting. Death was so horrible that it could have deterred him from obedience. And he pleaded with his Father, “Don’t let death destroy me like that.” And an angel came and helped him.
What he was praying was not that he wouldn’t die, but that the horrors of suffering and death wouldn’t deter him from his obedience and his saving mission. Could it be, then, that Simon’s stepping in to assist Jesus make it to the cross, to assist Jesus just at that moment, was like the angel displaying up at the excellent moment as the humanly weak Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane — and now on the road to the cross — required assist to finish his mission?
What We Know
No matter if these 5 recommendations are aspect of Luke’s intention as he writes, what we know is this:
- Simon was a genuine historical particular person, and he was there at a genuine historical moment.
- He was a foreigner, an African, who served Jesus in his final hour.
- Carrying the cross behind Jesus is a wonderful and painful image of our calling as disciples, according to Luke 9. No matter if Luke intended us to see that or not, it is correct.
- The contact to endure for Jesus is generally sudden and expensive and seemingly random.
- Simon’s assist proved to be each a relief temporarily, but also added suffering since it sustained Jesus to get to the cross and have the horrible practical experience of crucifixion for us.
- We know that when Jesus cried out to his heavenly Father in Gethsemane, he was offered assist. He required assist so that his obedience would not falter. God answered his prayers. These have been the hardest hours of Jesus’s life.
As we meditate on all these specifics, oh, what adore and thankfulness ought to rise in our hearts.