Summary: Taking up the cross.
Compelled to the Cross
Intro: Simon the Cyrenian
1: Who was he?
a) man from north Africa
b) a larger city, in what is eastern modern day Libya
c) he was in Jerusalem at Passover during the crucifixion of Christ
d) not much else can be known of Simon the Cyrenian
Fact: The Gospel of Mark 15:21 says he was the father of Alexander and Rufus, many believe the gospel of Mark to be written originally to the church at Rome, John Mark a close associate of the Apostle Peter and a companion of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, better known as Mark wrote the Gospel with the intent to draw his readers to the Cross of Jesus. Evidence shows the Gospel to be penned between 65 and 70 A.D. in 64 A.D. emperor Nero accused Christians of setting Rome on fire and instigates a harsh and fearful persecution in which Peter and Paul perish and countless others fall only to be lifted with the good news of the Gospel of Mark.
2: Back to Simon of Cyrene
a) father to Alexander and Rufus
b) Rufus known by Paul as well in his letter to the Romans 16:13
c) Also acts 11:20 shows men of Cyprus and Cyrene left at the time of Stephens death and preached Jesus in Antioch
d) Could these be the same men?
Fact: Paul saluted Rufus in Rome, Mark penned his gospel for the Roman church under persecution to be lifted up, Barnabas was called to Antioch to see the work of the men of Cyprus and Cyrene, then later brought Paul back to Antioch where they stayed a whole year teaching and preaching. Rufus, Alexander maybe even Simon himself could’ve been there spreading the life changing message of Jesus Christ.
How did we get from the crucifixion to here?
Body: Matthew, Mark, Luke
1: These three speak of Simon the Cyrenian
a) man who carried the cross for Jesus
b) each Gospel has a little different account
c) Mark speaks of his sons
d) Matthew just says a man of Cyrene they compelled
e) Luke shows Jesus going out and Simon coming in and tells of the manner of the task and a discourse between Jesus and the weeping women.
Point: Each gives an angle to be explored, each states that Simon was compelled to take up the cross. Compelled- pressed into service, they forced him. The Romans couldn’t take because it would intrude upon Jewish ritual, no Jew would take because it would defile them before Passover. A man chosen out of the crowd.
2: Is there real significance
a) I think so
b) Scripture shows evidence that Simon must have converted
c) He went home and told his family and they believed
Point: How can one make an accusation like that? Look at Luke’s account, Simon carried the cross behind Jesus and he only took it up after Jesus had exited the city he did not carry the cross the whole time. Beaten, exhausted physically bloodied and soiled in dirt, spit and vile hateful words flying at him, Jesus collapses and Simon is forced to carry the cross, V28 he speaks a word of prophecy and prayer to the women.
3: The words he said
a) don’t weep for me
b) weep for yourselves
c) he didn’t plead his case
d) nor did he seek refuge or escape
Point: He accepted his fate and approached Golgotha with a courage and concern for others. Simon all the time walking behind him bearing witness to all this, could have he wondered what manner of man is this?
4: Upon Calvary
a) they nailed him to the cross
b) between two thieves
c) Jesus calls for the forgiveness of those who crucified him Luke 23:34
Point: Is it absurd to think that Simon was not witness to this as well? I don’t think so, at times we are left with speculation and wonder, grasping at the truth. Simon was present at the crucifixion and bear witness to the miraculous love and mercy of our Lord. Thus being transformed himself!!!
These are thoughts and ideas there is but limited scripture to support these ideas. But look at it from a personal application view, we at one point were lost and dead in our trespasses. We were going one way and Jesus the other. Then something occurred, no Roman centurion forced us to carry the cross, but it had a strange attraction for us. We witnessed the love, mercy and forgiveness, through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His presence alone began to work in changing our lives, it not only effects us but those around us, those who are closest to us. There was no one else to carry the cross, Peter, James, John; no it was Simon traveling into the city as they led the Lord out. Forever to be changed, the rest of his life transformed by one encounter with the Savior, I don’t believe it possible to witness such things and not be changed.