Then Simon of Cyrene, resident of a large city in North Africa, came walking by. Just in from the country, he was minding his own business when he saw the column on the way to Calvary. He stopped to see what it was all about. That stop changed history for him and for millions of others!
The centurion noticed him immediately. He was just the man! He barked an order, and the legionnaires grabbed Simon and forced him to pick up Jesus' cross.
Who was Simon of Cyrene? We do not know for certain, but we can make some pretty good guesses. Mark tells us that he was the father of Alexander and Rufus. (Mark 15:21, Acts 13:1.) And since the gospel of Mark was directed to the Romans, it is evident that the sons were well known in the church at Rome.
The greatest honor ever given to a human being was when Mary conceived and gave birth to Jesus Christ. The next greatest honor given to a human being was this honorãthe honor of carrying Jesus' cross.
But how unexpected the honor was! When Simon left home he had no idea that he was going to play such an important part in history! And perhaps as you read this the Lord will honor you and ask you to shoulder a burden. Maybe right now He's saying, "I want you in Burma, Africa, India, Mexico. Or maybe in a voice that is soft and low He is saying, "I need you in the Sunday school. I need you to do regular church visitation. I need your money." If He is saying these things we should answer, "Yes, Lord," and feel honoured in doing so!
Now we often hear that a cross is something that we voluntarily pick up; but this is not always so. The text tells us that Simon was compelled to carry it. Please remember that real Christians are obedient Christians, and that if we are to obey, we must pick up the burdens Jesus hands us and be thankful to carry them!
I do not know what kind of cross the Lord may present to you. But whatever it is, carry it! The cross-bearer carries something that Jesus cannot carry in order to enable Jesus to do what the cross-bearer cannot do!
The task Simon was asked to complete was not a very spectacular one. His job was simply to carry a cross a few hundred feet; tradition tells us that Jesus Himself had already carried the cross most of the distance. Although the job looked insignificant at the moment, it turned out to be extremely important!
Take up your cross today ~ Stafford