Day 15 - March 2, 2018

Simon of Cyrene

Mark 15:21
‚Äč“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.” Mark 15:21

Have you recently reflected on the circumstances surrounding your first encounter with Jesus? Or the ripple affect your response to him has had, and will have in the future? 

By this point in the crucifixion narrative, Jesus had been awake for well over 24 hours. He had been secretly arrested, chained and taken from his disciples in Gethsemane to a “hearing” before Annas and Caiaphas, then bound and sent to Pilate. Since he was a Galilean, Pilate sent him to Herod, where he was mocked and insulted before being sent back to Pilate to be flogged and beaten by soldiers. His blood loss and dehydration would have made his exhaustion severe, and now he was being forced to carry his heavy wooden cross through the streets to the place of his execution. Jesus’ scourged and broken body could no longer support the weight of his cross, and in this moment an individual enters the account of our salvation. 

Cyrene was located in Northern Africa, in modern-day Tripoli, Libya. In all likelihood, Simon had traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover, saving for years to make the pilgrimage with his sons. His agenda was one of celebration for God’s protection and provision, but he was forced into Roman service, forced into the spectacle of the Roman death cursed by Jewish law (Deuteronomy 21:23). 

Why Simon? In the Gospel of Mark he is identified as the “father of Alexander and Rufus,” and that’s it. Were the original readers so familiar with Simon and his family that their names alone were enough to identify them? Maybe so. Romans 16:13 and Acts 13:1 contain references to “Rufus,” “Simeon called Niger” (another spelling of Simon), and “Lucius from Cyrene,” one of the leaders of the church from which Paul began his missionary journeys. This Rufus, a man of remarkable significance to the church, could be the son of Simon of Cyrene. Simeon called Niger could be the very man who literally carried the cross of Christ. Either way, Simon encountered Jesus through the most brutal of circumstances, but likely became a child of God as a result, and redemption was fulfilled on the cross Simon bore. The cross our Lord would die on for him, and for all.

How has God redeemed pain and suffering in your life for His glory and your good?
submitted by Briley Rivers, Director of Campus Ministries

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