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. (Luke 23:26 NASB)
A man in Jerusalem for the Passover is swept into the drama of the salvation of the world. Three Gospels mention Simon of Cyrene, and Mark says he was the father of Rufus and Alexander. There is familiarity with this man and his sons in the Jerusalem church after the crucifixion. Witnessing what took place made such a mark on this man that he became part of this movement started by Jesus. It seems that he did and what he saw made a mark that kept him from returning to Cyrene.
The person who becomes known as the one who carried the cross for Jesus would become someone of importance to the church. He lived out a part of the story that was missing for them. But he also was pressed into living out the lessons of Jesus, to bear one another’s burdens. He rendered a service to Jesus for which every disciple probably envied him, Peter most of all. He may not have done it willingly, but he did it, and it put him right in the event of Jesus’ death. For all we know he may have supplied the details of the mocking, Jesus’ forgiveness of the people, and the repentance of the one criminal and the centurion.
What I learn from Simon of Cyrene is that I too may be “pressed” into service for my Master. I’m supposed to be doing it anyway, so that’s not a huge thing. Probably more importantly is that others without a relationship to Jesus may also be pressed into service. Will what they witness bring them closer to the Son of God, their Savior? And how can I help foster that drawing near to Jesus?
In the movie, “God’s Not Dead 2”, a court-appointed attorney, an atheist/agnostic, is required to represent the defendant in a First-Amendment Rights trial. In the process, he is confronted with some facts that astonish him. As it nears the end, his assumptions are challenged, and he is faced with making a choice about his belief, either against or in Jesus. While this depiction is both fictional and dramatic, that it happens to some degree or another is actually probable.
Two of the witnesses in the fictional trial were believers who had been atheists, but came to faith in their examination of the evidence of Jesus. They were attempting to disprove Jesus’ story, and in the end became believers. Those stories are true, the people played themselves. One was Lee Strobel, the author of “The Case for Christ”, and the other was J Warner Wallace, the author of “Cold Case Christianity”. So, it does happen. Some who are swept into the story of Jesus come out the other side believers and contributors to His story. I’m already in it, and have been. So, how can I help those unbelieving, unsuspecting participants find the truth about Jesus?
Simon witnessed the death of Jesus, participated in part of it, and became part of His following because of what he saw. How can I contribute to the journey of others as they are swept into “church”, into contact with other believers, even just struggling with the existence of an “annoying worship” (i.e. too loud, can be heard across the street). I can either help or hinder that journey among the people of God, and within His story of salvation.
That’s my “oblique” view through this knothole this morning. What does yours look like?