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.
Jesus was arrested and brought before the governor, Pilate, on false charges, and he was flogged by Roman soldiers. The soldiers’ whips were made of leather strings that had pieces of lead, sharp bones, or nails tied onto them. Each stroke of the whip tore the person’s skin and ripped out pieces of flesh. The soldiers also placed a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head. All of this left Jesus deathly weak and bleeding, and he could not carry his cross.
Simon, a man from Cyrene in North Africa, “was passing by on his way in from the country,” and the Romans forced him to carry Jesus’ cross to Golgotha. Simon was probably tired already, since he was traveling in to Jerusalem from the countryside. But he was forced to change course and go back out of the city. And for what? To carry a cross for a man sentenced to a most horrible death by crucifixion.
Did Jesus talk to Simon or look him in the eye? We don’t know, but it seems that Simon’s life may have changed after carrying that cross. He is described also as “the father of Alexander and Rufus,” mentioned here in a way that suggests these young men were known by the community that first read the book of Mark. Did Simon and his family become followers of Jesus? They surely could have, because many people became believers after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. (See also Romans 16:13.)
Do you believe?
Father God, let us serve you by carrying whatever cross you call us to, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.