Summary: Simon of Cyrene was pushed into the pages of history. Except for one incident in his life he would never have been known, but because of that one experience, he is known the world over wherever the Gospel of Jesus is known.
This text focuses on a man who was forced to become famous. Millions of people
through the ages have labored and fought to get their names in the record of history, but
Simon of Cyrene was pushed into the pages of history. Except for one incident in his life
he would never have been known, but because of that one experience, he is known the
world over wherever the Gospel of Jesus is known. There is very little said about Simon
in the Bible. In fact, just about everything we know about him is found in Mark 15:21,
and in one verse in each of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke which are parallels of this
One might suspect that there is hardly enough information to preach on for ten
minutes, but this is not the case, for the Bible has a unique way of saying a great deal in
just a few words. A high school student was assigned to write a five hundred word theme,
and he chose to write on the universe, its origin, nature, and destiny. Even the Bible does
not attempt to condense to that degree, but it does not waste words. The story of
creation is told in two chapters. The great 23rd Psalm is just a little over a hundred
words. The famous Sermon on the Mount is in three chapters, and the last words of
Christ on the cross, though few in quantity, have been of such quality as to give birth to
literally tons of literature. The Bible is the key example of the truth that one does not
need to be wordy to be wise, nor voluminous to be valuable. I trust we see this as we
consider what we can know about Simon from this one verse. First of all-
I. WE KNOW WHERE HE WAS FROM AND WHAT HE WAS DOING.
He was from Cyrene, one of the two largest towns of Libya in North Africa, of over
100,000 people. It was a city in which a great many Jews lived, and many of them would
travel all the way to Jerusalem for Passover and Pentecost. In the list of places in Acts 2
of which the people were from, you will find Cyrene listed. Simon was either a Jew or a
proselyte, that is a pagan who was converted to Judaism, and who was a very pious
believer, for he was willing to travel over a thousand miles to Jerusalem to worship in the
But what he was doing when he was suddenly in a moment made to chance the whole
direction of his life, was simply passing by. He knew nothing of all that had gone on in
the city that night. Jesus had been going through the agonies of Gethsemane, and the
trial, and had endured the cruel mockings and beatings of the mob and soldiers. Simon
had no doubt been sleeping. He had a long day planned, and was up early in the
morning, as were all Orthodox Jews, saying their prayers. He was dressed, cleaned, and
almost into the city before 9 in the morning. If he had been three minutes earlier or
later, or had gone a different way, we never would have heard of him, but in the
providence of God Simon was to have an experience that morning that changed his whole
life. This brings us to the second thing we know about Simon.
II. WE KNOW HE WAS COMPELLED TO BEAR THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
As Simon came near the city gate he saw a crowd coming out of the city. They were
shouting and mocking at three men who were bearing crosses. One of them was having a
difficult time, and it was obvious he was holding up the procession. The soldiers who
were anxious to get this business over ordered Simon to bear his cross. The Roman
soldiers had a right to compel a civilian to help them. When Jesus said, "If anyone
compel you to go a mile, go with him two miles," He was referring to this practice.
Why the soldiers picked Simon is not known. We know that Jesus had been up all
night, and had taken a beating that was known to have killed other men. Therefore, it is
quit likely that the traditional viewpoint is true-that Jesus stumbled and fell beneath the
load. Many fell that Simon must have shown sympathy for this one who had been so
cruelly treated, and possibly even stepped forward to help Him up. The soldier in
charge, seeing a chance to speed things up, says, "Alright helpful, you carry the cross,"
and forced him to do so. Simon was likely the only one in the crowd not mocking Jesus,
and so he was a likely one to choose.