How are you carrying the cross?
Mark 15: 21-24
A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
Both Matthew and Mark say Simon was forced to carry the cross and Luke says he was made to.
This father with his sons were Jews living in what we know as Libya and the reason for being in Jerusalem was the same as all the others in this crowded city, the Passover celebration. Mark, the earliest Gospel writer names his sons, most probably because the Christians he was writing to knew of these men.
Paul wrote in Romans 16:13 “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.” Maybe this is the same Rufus? It is certainly a nice thought that both sons went on to serve Jesus in some way. That the impact of seeing what their father was forced to do on that day inspired them to become men of God.
The flagellation of Jesus had been too much. The soldiers were concerned that Jesus would die before they got to the execution site. Pilate had ordered the crucifixion and now they were close to not carrying out these instructions. This was no willing volunteer, this was a man seized from the crowd, in the wrong place at the wrong time and there was nothing he could do but carry the cross behind Jesus.
Isn’t that still true today?
Yesterday in one of the churches I visited I spoke with 2 individuals who had received news of terminal cancers.
This was their cross they were carrying and it looks like there is only one way it will end.
Whilst we prayed for healing and have faith that they be healed I was impressed with how they were handling this news. They were both pragmatic and hopeful for their eternal home.
Simon was forced. How may he have reacted do you think at that?
What about my sons? We have plans.
I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this.
What will people think of me?
Today maybe you are being forced to carry something that was unexpected and you have not been able to refuse it, you could do nothing about it, it seemed it was chosen for you. Some would say it was fate and an unlucky roll of the dice. However you describe it, one day you woke up and your life changed forever. You are now carrying the cross behind Jesus (as Luke describes it). You are walking in His footsteps. You are following the road to death.
You may have many questions revealing your deep reluctance and anxiety. However, your sons are watching you. Your family and friends are around you. There is a generation in wonder at you. How will you do? What will you say?
Will your family be able to say when you are long gone, my father carried the cross of Jesus?
“Even when he didn’t want to he surrendered his life to follow Jesus.”
What is the cross for you today that you are carrying? Luke says “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27). How you carry it impacts and inspires those who are watching you. You can change lives by carrying your cross. Make sure you carry it well.