Summary: Calvary’s Simon - compelled. Calvary’s Soldiers - calloused. Calvary’s Suffering - Complete! How to renew a passion for the Passion of Christ. Link inc. to formatted text, audio & video, PowerPoint Presentation.
The Highest Hill in the World
In Latin it is called Calvary. In Hebrew, Golgotha, or “place of the skull.” If you look carefully you can see it...an eerie image...a symbol of death. It’s 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 God’s justice was affected by God’s grace. Man’s sin intersected with God’s 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. Calvary’s 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 “compelled” 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 didn’t even talk about it in polite company. You can imagine his humiliation and resentment at having to do this, and being associated with the ‘criminal.’
Mark refers to Simon as though the early church would know whom he was talking about.
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 Simon’s 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!
He’s 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 don’t really want to be here. In some cases they are a child or teen, and they have been ‘compelled’ to come. Maybe it’s a spouse who has been begged repeatedly, or a friend or relative. And if you are one of those who have been ‘compelled’ to be here today, you ought to thank God that somebody cared enough about you to bring you.
Ill.—raise your hand if you were raised w/ a drug problem...you know, you were drug [dragged!] to church. Look around! Keep your hand up if you are glad you were compelled to go to church. Raise your hand if you got saved as an end result of going to a church you didn’t at first want to attend.
It doesn’t matter how you get here, the Word of God is still sharper than a two edged Sword. So bring them in from the fields of sin, and after they get here, the music melts their heart, the friendliness of this family warms their heart, the Bible convicts their heart, and chances are, God will come into their heart and they will live to see the day that they thank God they were ever compelled to come!
Parents, don’t buy into the lie of the devil that if you make your kids come to church you will turn them off. We all meet people who say they don’t go to church because they were made to as a child. It’s baloney.
Ill.—what if I said to you that I’m giving up bathing, and eating vegetables, because I was made to as a child. If this philosophy was really true that we quit things our parents made us do, then I’ve got a sister who is 30 years old who would be walking around naked today! She hated to wear clothes as a kid, and would dart out of the bathroom and run around like a nudist colony! I can just see her getting arrested today at her church for indecent exposure, and she explains to the judge how it’s her parent’s fault for making her dress all those years!