Summary: Luke tells the story of the crucifixion from the viewpoint of the participants in the drama. As we see the death of Jesus from their perspective we become aware of the varied responses to the cross.
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 65
“Responses To The Cross”
In the last message (Sunday evening) we witnessed that Pilate had determined Jesus to be innocent. It was his desire to release Jesus but the crowd demanded Barabbas, a vicious criminal be pardoned and Pilate caved in to their demand. We now see Jesus as he is led away to be put to death. They lead Him through the streets of Jerusalem, along a route known as the “Via Dolorosa,”- the sorrowful way.” They are headed for a place called Calvary or Golgotha, the place of skull, the location where crucifixions were carried out.
But I don’t want you to think that Jesus as he is lead to the cross is just a helpless victim who is caught up in events he could not control. He is not just a passive victim overwhelmed by superior forces. In John’s account (19:11) Jesus told Pilate "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.”
When Peter had thought to defend him at his arrest Jesus had reminded him saying (Matt 26:53), “… do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” What Jesus did, he did willingly. He died as a substitute for you and I. In 1 Peter 2:24 we find, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed.
Luke tells the story of the crucifixion from the viewpoint of the participants in the drama. As we see the death of Jesus from their perspective we become aware of the varied responses to the cross.
It was a part of the prisoner’s humiliation to carry his cross, or at least part of it, to the place of execution. So as Jesus left Pilate’s hall he was carrying either the cross or at least the crossbeam which in it’s self would have weighted 75 to 125 lbs. (John 19:17). At some point he was unable to go on so the soldiers drafted someone to carry the cross for Him.
This is where we are introduced to the first individual’s response to the cross.
Some responded in Ignorance (vv. 25-26)
“Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.”
When you consider all that Jesus had endured, his agonizing hours in the garden at Gethsemane and his numerous beating handed out during the night it is not difficult to imagine Him falling under the weight of the cross. As he stumbles under the load, a man coming in the opposite direction, Simon the Cyrenian was drafted for the job of carrying his cross.
He had traveled over 800 miles to celebrate the Passover and now he had been rendered ceremonially unclean. Taking the cross he had been literally covered by the blood of Jesus and therefore unable to participate in the Passover ceremony. This must have seemed to Simon a great catastrophe. It would have been tragic to the extreme to physically be covered by the blood of Jesus and yet to have died without the spiritual benefits that comes through faith.