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First Pres Blog

A Creative Look at the Cross Journey - Session 7, 8 & 9

Posted by Laura Mueller on

Station VII Jesus Carries the Cross

Station VIII Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross

Mark 15:21, Matthew 27:32, Luke 23:26

Just Another Day

It started out like just any other day.

Simon awoke early, the country air brisk, yet fresh with the spring's new-mown hay. Birds chirped loudly, relishing the sun rising while ignorant this day was like no other in history, nor would it ever be repeated.

Historians have calculated the day, using Daniel's 70 weeks prophecy, as Nisan (April) 11th, AD 32 . . . possibly.

Simon was eager to get to Jerusalem before the 3rd hour (9 am), to tend to his religious obligations. Then he had to hurry back to the coastal town of Joppa to board the nearest ship bound for Libya. His two sons, Alexander and Rufus, overseeing his affairs in Cyrene, needed direction; and he had many Jewish friends and family in this North African port city to welcome him home. Simon was hoping to speak with the rabbi at his synagogue about a possible marriage for Rufus.

Entering Jerusalem, Simon headed in the direction of the temple; but his path brought him near Golgotha, or “The Place of the Skull.” At that point, he was swept along with a tremendous crowd moving slowly up the hill. There were three men, two carrying their cross beams; but the third was barely able to walk. He was shabbily dressed, with dried blood on his back, forehead, and etching down his face. Thorns protruded from hair matted with blood.

That's all Simon saw. Suddenly an iron-clad arm clutched his elbow, and loud commands in Latin spat from behind. He was jerked out of the crowd and handed the cross beam that had fallen at the weakened man's feet. Understanding enough to obey, he slowly lifted the heavy beam and began inching his way up the hill. They were surrounded by soldiers, weeping and wailing women, curious onlookers, and some plainly dressed women appearing to know the mysterious, beaten man.

While slowly passing, he heard a man accompanying the women speak the name, “Jesus.” Remembering the rumors, and then what he himself had seen of this Jesus only a few days earlier preaching in the temple courts, he was amazed how unrecognizable the man now was. Could it be him?

Then without warning, this Jesus turned and said to the mourning women, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women; the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ And to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Simon, drenched in sweat, could not comprehend what Jesus—supposedly a great prophet and healer—was trying to say. But later, after the earthquake, the disappearance of the sun, and the centurion's comment that “this was a righteous man,” Simon would begin to see the light. If men could commit an innocent man to such a horrifying death while the country was at peace, what more evil atrocities would they commit during war?

   Pious Jew that he was, Simon could not have conceived of the New Testament revelation. But the time would come when people living in “the last days,” facing the wrath to come, would call on the mountains and rocks to fall on them and hide them from “the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6.16).

Down through the ages, and until the end of time, all peoples and tongues will read of Simon carrying Jesus’ cross beam on the day history paused while salvation came close to everyone. And that was the day that began like just another day.

Station IX Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem

John 19:18-24,  19:25-27


Tags: cross journey, gtw