One Hit Wonder
Simon of Cyrene
“Share in Each Other’s Sufferings”
Cyrene, Libya, North Africa is located approximately 785 miles from Jerusalem. During the time of Jesus, you’d have to travel either by boat, horseback, or by foot—which took weeks. No matter how Simon traveled to Jerusalem, he began his journey with a plan. He took enough food and water, and probably sent someone ahead to neighboring cities to prepare a place for him to rest. He needed money, too. How else would he buy a lamb or fowl to sacrifice during the Passover? Maybe, if he had time, he’d visit family and friends. Maybe, he’d sit down with the elders and catch up on the latest news spreading throughout the Jewish brotherhood. I’d venture to say, Simon looked forward to the Passover for more reasons than worshipping God.
But sometimes plans can go horribly wrong. Simon didn’t expect to get caught up in a swell of people and meet the Savior on a hot Friday afternoon. He didn’t expect his clothing to be soaked with the Savior’s blood, mingled with His sweat. He couldn’t fathom why the guards chose him to carry another man’s burden. He was there for the Passover. He’d be late preparing for it if the guards didn’t let him be. But the guards probably raised their whips and threaten to beat him if he didn’t bear the weight of it.
Simon saw Jesus’ pain, the love and forgiveness in His eyes amidst the chaos. To hear Him moan had to provoke Simon to tears. Scared and perplexed, he had never seen a crown of thorns buried so deep in a man’s head. The vast amount of blood, water, dirt, and gravel caked on the Master’s face stunned him. The spittle. The bruises. Above all that had gone awry, Simon didn’t expect to eyewitness Jesus’ death. What had this man done to deserve such punishment? Whoever He was, Simon had no intent to come to Jerusalem and carry His cross then watch Him die.
Simon wasn’t the only one disappointed with his journey. Those close to Jesus expected their journey to liberate them from Roman rule. They looked with great anticipation for a new king! Instead, they received forgiveness and love, miracles and healing. Part of the mob’s anger was due to the fact that, in their opinion, Jesus was an impostor. Some felt devastated that their journey had taken a different route.
I raise a poignant issue here. Simon didn’t know Jesus. The women following behind didn’t know Simon. Mary didn’t know Simon. Neither did John. At Jesus’ feet were a host of people who didn’t know one another, yet they were there to minister to one man. After Christ’s burial, you think these people had a common bond they wouldn’t have otherwise shared if it were not for our Lord’s suffering? Is this the reason for our loneliness? We have not shared in the sufferings of others.
The souls sitting at Jesus’ feet were there to share in His suffering! They gave of their time, tears, and sorrow. Why? They simply didn’t want Jesus to be alone. They weren’t afraid to cry for our Lord, to feel His pain, to sorrow over His inevitable death.
How many times have we avoided the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters because we don’t want to be around such sadness, because we don’t want to be near death, or we don’t want our good name associated with the scandal of a brother wrongly accused? Isn’t that behavior in direct contradiction with God’s plan for us? “We who are strong ought to bear the failings of the weak and not please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1)
Whether you are living in fear or for yourself, it is not a godly approach to the mission He has placed before us. Sometimes that mission is not a journey we intended to take, but one that must be traveled just the same.
On the first day of the week, often we talk to (or avoid) the same people. This ritual blinds us, causing us to become observers of those who suffer, rather than ministers. This ritual often feeds our frenzy to stay in our lanes and not do what is both required and uncomfortable. It takes effort and a mountain of courage to veer off course to reach out to someone you don’t know, someone you don’t love, or someone with whom you don’t have a personal relationship. Isn’t that exactly what Christ calls us to do? So, what does it profit us to minister to those who are well?
What’s your plan? Before you is a map—the great commission—and with it you must take valuable items or you will not complete your journey. Simon needed food and water, and money for a sacrifice. What will you take on your journey? “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8)
I suggest the first thing we pack for our journey is LOVE, and with love comes two things—courage and action. Do you have the courage to get out of your lane and do something godly and uncomfortable? Are you willing to minister to people you don’t know and relish in the opportunity to emit the love of our Savior? Will your love compel you to associate with people not on your economic or social level? Will your love break down your preconceived ideas of your sisters or brothers?
Or is it possible we have become pious enough to think we’re already well-equipped for our journey?
Donna B. Comeaux
Written for Park Plaza Church of Christ
August 25, 2013
GO TO Parkplaza.org to hear the sermon on Simon of Cyrene. Once on the website, click “Media,” then click “One Hit Wonders.” There is NO signin or registration. ENJOY!
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