Summary: Stations of the Cross, Station 4

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IN HIS STEPS (MARK 15:21-22, MATTHEW 27:32-33, LUKE 23:26)

21A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). (Mark 15:21-22)

32As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). (Matt 27:32-33)

26As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)

The cross is what separates Christianity from other religions, the suffering Messiah from popular gurus, and theological heavyweights from lightweights.

Lois A. Cheney wrote a useful and thought-provoking poem on the cross:

I stand before the cross and wonder.

I stand before the cross and fear.

I kneel before the cross and weep.

I pray before the cross and rejoice.

To know the cross is to know Christ.

To feel the cross is to feel Christ.

To gaze at the cross is to gaze at Christ.

To carry the cross is to be a Christian,

And not until then.

God, forgive us. (Calvin Miller, The Book of Jesus 370. NY: Touchstone, 1996)

Thomas a Kempis said: “Jesus now has many lovers of his heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of his cross.?

While John’s gospel noted that Jesus carried the cross upon his shoulders (John 19:17), Matthew, Mark and Luke stressed that Simon the Cyrene carried the cross for Jesus. In the Roman Catholic tradition, Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus carry the cross, is visibly present at the front of the 5th and 9th stations, two of fourteen stations of the cross.

Who was Simon the Cyrene? Simon of Cyrene was a pilgrim, in the biblical sense, who became an eyewitness and a servant of our Lord in the most extraordinary way.

A Cross-bearer is a Sufferer

I am often bewildered by the strong response to the gospel song “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord??After reading Simon’s story, I understand the stirring feeling of being informed of, invited to, and included into this unique privilege.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Oh…Sometimes I tremble, tremble, tremble,

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Simon was an accidental tourist, but not an accidental believer. He was a Jewish pilgrim coming into Jerusalem, but he ended up as a Messianic pilgrim coming into faith. The foreigner from Cyrene, a region in Libya (Acts 2:10) of North Africa, discovered that the real pilgrimage was not at Jerusalem, but Golgotha; it was a single act, and not a yearly Passover affair, and the sacrifice was the precious Lamb of God, not the blood of animals.

Oddly, the choice of Simon the Cyrene was as curious as his appearance with Jesus that day. Previously he was faceless, nameless, and clueless in the crowd, but now he was singled out to be Jesus?pall bearer, the closest pilgrim, and the survivor of the two. While most people seldom question the color of his skin, one internet painting of Simon the Cyrene depict him as a black man.

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