26 When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus. 27 And following Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting Him. 28 But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’31 For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” 32 Two others also, who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death with Him. Luke 23:26-32
Imagine Simon the Cyrene’s shocking view of the ripped and bloody back of Jesus as they trudged toward Golgotha. In Jerusalem from the coast of North Africa to observe the Passover, he was caught up in the sea of people following Jesus to his place of execution.
It is clear that Simon was preordained by God to lend his hand to His Son. As Matthew and Mark described it, he was pressed into service. The physical part was no easy task, I’m sure, as the 40-pound crossbar of roughly sawn wood was unwieldy to bear as they traversed the dusty streets amid all the chaos and uproar, and the pushing and shoving. But the strain of carrying the cross was incomparable to hanging on it!
This is what God does with some, to seize their hearts and press them into service. Would that be me rather than to allow time to think on it too long! I venture to say Simon, whose task terminated where the nails would be soon driven through the Savior’s palms, stayed there in the background to the bitter end, looking on stunned in disbelief and horror. Surely, he became a believer that day! We know that for sure from Mark’s account (15:21) as his sons went on to serve Jesus, with Rufus called out by name in Paul’s epistle to the Romans (16:13) as a “choice man in the Lord.” Like father, like son, and oh yes, Paul alludes to Rufus’ beloved mother as “his.”
Panning back to the wailing women who followed the processional, it is as if they vicariously felt the full brunt of the Lord’s pain and anguish, beating their breasts and lamenting loudly. Hearing them, Jesus stopped in his tracks and issued a sobering, might I say, terrifying warning to all. “For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (verse 31) We are indeed beginning to understand what he meant in this day and age all too well.
To sum up, while beaten to a pulp and unable to carry his own cross, those gawking and weeping were about to witness the greatest miracle of all time, the provision of the only means by which man could be saved.
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
As the Passion Week unfolds, make it your objective to feel his pain. This will make Sunday even more special.