Where are the Simons?

  • March 27, 2015
  • #8585

Are you taken by surprise when asked to assist someone? If so, take it as an opportunity to serve the body of Christ.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a thought for the Easter season.

And this brief little lesson comes out of Mark chapter 15, verse 21. Let me set the scene for you: It’s a dusty, crowded road on the way to Golgotha as Jesus, beaten and bloody, is struggling to carry His own cross. Criminals to be crucified often had to carry to the place of crucifixion their own cross beam, that is a piece of wood weighing maybe up to fifty pounds. Jesus started out by shouldering His load, but He had become so weakened from the flogging ordered by Pontius Pilate. And then after the flogging, He was taken to the Praetorium where a whole company of Roman soldiers spit on Him and beat Him again and again with a rod – and who knows what else they did to Him that the Bible is too polite to record. Suffice to say, Jesus at that point is utterly depleted of any and all strength. So when He stumbles, Mark 15:21 says, “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.”

 You know, at first it hurts my heart to think that Jesus had become so weakened that a passerby had to be pressed into service. And it's interesting to note that Simon was only passing by when he was forced to carry the cross of Christ. And the Bible makes mention of this detail that Simon was going into the city from the country while Jesus was going out of the city to the hillside. Simon was going one way, Jesus the other. They weren’t supposed to meet. But that’s when a soldier grabbed Simon by the elbow and barked his orders. But as Simon lifted that cross from the shoulders of Jesus, I like to imagine the relief our Lord must have felt – after having helped so many others in so many ways, here was one man to help Him! All the night before and all day, all Jesus had been shown was abuse. But now, suddenly, this man was there to lighten His load and provide help.

 This precious story makes me think of other people who bear difficult loads. You will often hear them saying: "This is the cross I must bear." These people need burden bearers. They need help and, in a way, their unspoken plea is: "Where is my Simon?" But who will help? Like Simon, you may be heading one way in the opposite direction of a person in desperate need. Your paths only cross for a moment – how is it that you are asked to help? You weren’t supposed to meet this person in need. The whole thing to you, like Simon, is a surprise. Or maybe you see yourself as an innocent passerby being forced into service, the need has been thrust on you; maybe you have to help an aunt recover from a stroke, or assist your next door neighbor who just got out of the hospital. Perhaps you’ve been asked to take a relative to chemotherapy, or to lend a hand to a co-worker who’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

 Jesus says in scripture that when you help the least of the brethren, it is the same as serving Him. And in a way, as you help Christians in need, you are literally helping the body of Christ, a little like Simon that day on that dusty, crowded road. Now, true, at first like Simon, the task may take you by surprise, your plans have been interrupted. You may even feel put-upon. But as you carry the burden of a hurting friend or family member, I just bet you’ll discover that your attitude will change, especially when you see that smile of relief and gratitude. You'll discover the privilege of being someone else’s Simon.

© Joni and Friends

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