ďAnd they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear His cross.Ē Ė Mark 15:21
Everyday we pass by hundreds of things without paying attention. So it was with Simon. He was just passing by and it so happened that he met an execution procession. The Roman soldiers were leading Jesus out to crucify Him. Jesus was physically weak from the beatings and so the weight of the cross was too much for Him. Therefore the soldiers apprehended Simon to carry the cross to His crucifixion destination. Simon was just a by-passer. He had no knowledge of the Jewish and Roman trials that falsely convicted Jesus. He had no knowledge of the scourging and mocking of Jesus. He had no knowledge of this bloody and beaten man named Jesus.
Simon was a foreigner from Cyrene. Cyrene was a great city located in North Africa. Therefore, Simon would have been a Gentile from the descendants of Ham with no knowledge of Jesus. All Simon knows is that he had been taken by force and was compelled to bear the cross of Jesus against his will. The reason Simon was chosen by the Romans was not because he was from a different place, or from a different race, but because of Godís sovereign grace. The Romans singled out this African because God had already singled him out to be an object of His love and mercy. Surely, Simon must have thought, ďHow did this happen? Iím at the wrong place at the wrong time!Ē What appeared to be the worst day in Simonís life actually became the best day of his life. God prepared this day for Simon to encounter His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. It was God who chose and determined his time, his place, and his person, because God determined to save this Gentile.
Once at the place of execution, the cross was taken from Simon and placed upon Jesus. Although Simon resisted the cross that he carried, the Lord Jesus did not resist the cross. No one forced Jesus against His will to bear it. No Roman compelled Him or pinned Him down on the cross. Jesus Christ freely gave His life upon the cross as our substitute (John 10:17,18).
Obviously, the Romanís used irresistible force to make Simon carry the cross of Christ against his will. However, the Holy Spirit of God used irresistible love and sovereign grace to make Simon willing to take up his cross and follow Christ. The Romanís used irresistible force. The Lord used irresistible love. Godís love overcomes our resistance, and His grace is too wonderful and too amazing for anyone to resist. When we actually see with spiritual eyes such divine love, the cross becomes something that we cherish.
Thank God for irresistible love and sovereign grace that made us willing in the day of His power (Psalm 110:3).
David C. Hale, pastor