A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Rufus and Alexander, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.
— Mark 15:21
After I stocked up on supplies, my pack felt heavier as I made the long climb to Blackrock Hut on the Appalachian Trail. It was Good Friday, and as I struggled a bit, I was reminded of the terrible weight Simon of Cyrene had to carry on the first Good Friday long ago.
The Bible tells us very little about Simon. We learn that he was from Cyrene, a Greek city in North Africa, and that he had two sons. We don’t know what had brought Simon to Jerusalem, but we do know that some Roman soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. That grotesque instrument of torture could have weighed as much as 165 pounds (75 kg).
Toiling through the narrow streets of Jerusalem, Simon walked along near Jesus as he staggered toward execution outside the city. We don’t know what Simon thought about him, but what a sight Jesus must have been—exhausted, bleeding, and mangled from being flogged, humiliated, and brutalized. Though he carried the heavy cross, Simon may well have felt more sorrow for Jesus than for himself.
We too should feel sorrow for Jesus. Even more, we can be thankful for his costly love. And just as he gave himself for us, he calls us to choose his path of costly love and to follow him.
Lord Jesus, we can’t imagine the pain and suffering you bore for our sin. Help us to love and serve you with all of our hearts. Amen.