As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the jews.
There were many Jews who returned to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Simon was among the host of those walking into town. He was from Cyrene, which we now know as Lybia in North Africa. In this scene, we have a badly beaten Jesus unable to continue to carry the cross and an able-bodied Jew wandering into town. The Roman soldiers exercised their right to force Simon into service and carry this burden. He had no other option than compliance.
Jesus chose the cross and Simon did not.
While the text doesn’t tell us Jesus’ reaction to Simon carrying the cross, it does tell us how He responded once thrust upon it. Jesus was committed to embracing the full agony of this crucifixion. We see this in Jesus’ refusal to accept a common painkiller offered to men in these circumstances. Jesus was a man committed to accepting responsibility for what we deserved. He chose to bear this great burden on our behalf.
DO THIS TODAY: Follow Jesus by choosing to take spiritual responsibility.