The Highest Hill in the World
Matthew 27:31-43

In Latin it is called Calvary. In Hebrew, Golgotha, or ďplace of the skull.Ē If you look carefully you can see eerie image...a symbol of death. Itís not a very high hill geographically, but spiritually speaking, I believe it to be the highest hill in the world. For it was on this hill that Godís justice was affected by Godís grace. Manís sin intersected with Godís sovereignty. History meets eternity on the highest hill in the world! No event in history is as significant as the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

We left off last time with Jesus standing before Pontius Pilate and being condemned to death. His scourging was bad enough, but He still had a long way remaining in His journey to that hill.

1. Calvaryís Simon.
v. 31-32 It was required that a prisoner carry his own cross to the place of execution. Not only has Jesus already been scourged, His body lacerated and hanging in ribbons, but He is already wearing the crown of thorns, driven deep into His scalp. He has been repeatedly beaten for hours now, and it was simply more than His physical human nature could bear. Though He was all God, He was all man, and He collapsed under the load. But there would be no delay. They wanted Him dead, and now!

So the Roman soldiers quickly drafted the first able bodied man they could find. Simon by name, from the country of Cyrene, which was a country in northern Africa, what we would today call Libya. It is possible that he was a black man, but that region had been settled mostly by Palestinian Jews at that time, so it is more likely that he was one of these who had returned to Jerusalem for Passover.

They ďcompelledĒ him to carry the cross. They made him do it against his will. The cross was the ultimate form of degradation. Crucifixion originated from the practice of nailing rats to the wall, and when it became the supreme method of killing the worst of the worst criminals, you didnít even talk about it in polite company. You can imagine his humiliation and resentment at having to do this, and being associated with the Ďcriminal.í

Mark refers to Simon as though the early church would know whom he was talking about.
Mark 15:21
And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.
In Romans 16 Paul mentions a saint named Rufus. Many Bible scholars believe this experience of Simonís may have led to his salvation and his whole household. Perhaps he went to Jerusalem to sacrifice a Passover Lamb, and he wound up meeting the Lamb of God!

Heís an example of those who come to church because they are made to, and end up meeting the Savior face to face. Every week we have some here who donít really want to be here. In some cases they are a child or teen, and they have been Ďcompelledí to come. Maybe itís a spouse who has
Arne Hansen
March 17, 2008
Pointed and solid in directing us to the choice all must make when it comes to the Cross and following Christ. Thanks Pastor Shirley.