Simon the Cyrene

Read: Matthew 27:32-37

They compelled this man to carry [Jesus’s] cross. (v. 32)

I don’t think this was how Simon thought his day would go. Since Simon was from the distant region of Cyrene, he was likely a faithful Jew who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover. He wasn’t there to see Jesus. As far away as he lived, he would likely never have heard of Jesus. Yet, by God’s grace, he was brought into the story. Simon was forced to carry the cross of Jesus, who was weary from the trial, the beatings, the mockery, and the weight of what lay ahead of him—headed toward his death. The condemned usually carried their own crosses, but when Jesus couldn’t continue, these soldiers compelled a passerby to carry it. Simon brought it all the way to Golgotha, where the soldiers immediately crucified Jesus (vv. 33-37).

Carrying the cross and witnessing Jesus’s crucifixion no doubt changed Simon’s life that day. How do we know? His name is mentioned. This means he was likely known to the Christian community. Mark 15:21 identifies him as “the father of Alexander and Rufus.” The only reason to include these names and details is because believers in the early church knew Simon and his two sons. They could ask them directly about what had happened on that Friday.

The cross of Jesus can change a life. It changed Simon. He could not have expected to be caught up in God’s work of redemption, but God had other plans. The cross of Jesus can change your life too.

As you pray, ask God to change you through the cross, just like Simon.

About the Author

Stephen Shaffer is the pastor at Bethel Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario.

This entry is part 26 of 31 in the series Looking to Jesus