On the Way to Calvary
Matthew 27:27-32; Mark 15:21, 22; Luke 23:26, 27; The Desire of Ages, pp.741, 742
We can help others carry their burdens.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Has anyone ever helped you carry something really heavy? Or have you helped someone lift something that was too heavy for them? Simon helped Jesus carry something very heavy for Him.
Jesus had just endured the worst night imaginable. After the Passover feast He had gone with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. There He was arrested. During the night He was put on trial. He was harshly questioned before the high priest, the Jewish leaders, Pilate, and Herod. He was spit on, slapped, mocked, and insulted. And He was sentenced to death. Twice He was whipped until His back was bleeding and raw.
And now it was morning. Prisoners were expected to carry their own crosses to the place of execution. And so, as Jesus was taken out of the court, His cross was laid on His bleeding back.
And then he met Simon.
Simon was from the town of Cyrene in northern Africa. The Bible doesn’t tell us what he was doing in Jerusalem. Maybe he was in town to do some business and got caught in the big crowd.
Simon looked where everyone else seemed to be looking. And he saw something horrible—a Man surrounded by four Roman soldiers. The Man had a crown of thorns on His head. His back was bloody. He looked like He was going to faint. And He was carrying a cross. That meant He was going to be crucified. He must have done something horrible, Simon may have thought. Only the very worst criminals are crucified.
Suddenly the Man fell down. He’s been beaten so much and lost so much blood. He looks almost dead already, Simon probably thought as he watched. But this prisoner is different. Most criminals I know about curse and yell and fight. But this Man does nothing. He says nothing. He looks . . . kind.
As Simon watched, the soldiers talked with one another. The Man didn’t even try to get up. Simon felt sorry for Him. Just then a soldier looked around and pushed through the crowd right to Simon. “Come with me,” the soldier said. “You can carry Jesus’ cross.”
Simon didn’t dare disobey. Any Roman soldier could make anyone do any work.
Simon picked up the cross and started to walk. The cross was heavy. Simon wondered how a beaten man could carry it even a little way. And they don’t go the shortest way when they take a man to be crucified, Simon may have thought. They want to hurt and shame the person as much as possible.
I’m glad I can help Him. I can’t stop what’s going to happen, but I can help by carrying His cross.
Simon must have watched as Jesus was nailed on the cross. He must have heard Him comfort the thief who asked to be remembered when Jesus comes again. He must have heard Jesus forgive the people who hurt Him.
All this must have changed Simon forever. For the rest of his life Simon would remember doing something to help Jesus. Simon must have learned about the heavy burden Jesus carried —the weight of the sins of the whole world. And Simon had done something to help the Savior who died for him.
What can you do to help Jesus today?