Mark 15:21
And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) The father of Alexander and Rufus.—The fact recorded here, and not elsewhere, is one of the most striking instances of the independent character of St. Mark’s Gospel. It is clear that it had a special interest for himself and the readers for whom he wrote; what that interest was we can only conjecture. The two names were so common that we cannot arrive at more than a probable identification, but the mention of a “Rufus chosen in the Lord” as prominent among the Christians of Rome (Romans 16:13), taken together with the evidence which connects St. Mark’s Gospel with that Church (see Introduction), tends to the conclusion that he was one of the two brothers thus mentioned. But if so, then we are led on to some other facts of no slight interest. St. Paul speaks of the mother of Rufus as being also his mother—i.e., endeared to him by many proofs of maternal kindness—and so we are led to the belief that the wife of Simon of Cyrene must, at some time or other, at Antioch or Corinth, and afterwards at Rome, have come within the inner circle of St. Paul’s friends. This, in its turn, connects itself with the prominence given to “men of Cyrene” in St. Luke’s account of the foundation of the Gentile Church of Antioch (Acts 11:20). (See Note on Matthew 27:20.)

(21-38) See Notes on Matthew 27:32-51.

Mark

THE DEATH WHICH GIVES LIFE

SIMON THE CYRENIAN

Mark 15:21
.

How little these soldiers knew that they were making this man immortal! What a strange fate that is which has befallen chose persons in the Gospel narrative, who for an instant came into contact with Jesus Christ. Like ships passing athwart the white ghostlike splendour of moonlight on the sea, they gleam silvery pure for a moment as they cross its broad belt, and then are swallowed up again in the darkness.

This man Simon, fortuitously, as men say, meeting the little procession at the gate of the city, for an instant is caught in the radiance of the light, and stands out visible for evermore to all the world; and then sinks into the blackness, and we know no more about him. This brief glimpse tells us very little, and yet the man and his act and its consequences may be worth thinking about.

He was a Cyrenian; that is, he was a Jew by descent, probably born, and certainly resident, for purposes of commerce, in Cyrene, on the North African coast of the Mediterranean. No doubt he had come up to Jerusalem for the Passover; and like very many of the strangers who flocked to the Holy City for the feast, met some difficulty in finding accommodation in the city, and so was obliged to go to lodge in one of the outlying villages. From this lodging he is coming in, in the morning, knowing nothing about Christ nor His trial, knowing nothing of what he is about to meet, and happens to see the procession as it is passing out of the gate. He is by the centurion impressed to help the fainting Christ to carry the heavy Cross. He probably thought Jesus a common criminal, and would resent the task laid upon him by the rough authority of the officer in command. But he was gradually touched into some kind of sympathy; drawn closer and closer, as we suppose, as he looked upon this dying meekness; and at last, yielded to the soul-conquering power of Christ.

Tradition says so, and the reasons for supposing that it was right may be very simply stated. The description of him in our text as ‘the father of Alexander and Rufus’ shows that, by the time when Mark wrote, his two sons were members of the Christian community, and had attained some eminence in it. A Rufus is mentioned in the salutations in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, as being ‘elect in the Lord,’ that is to say, ‘eminent,’ and his mother is associated in the greeting, and commended as having been motherly to Paul as well as to Rufus. Now, if we remember that Mark’s Gospel was probably written in Rome, and for Roman Christians, the conjecture seems a very reasonable one that the Rufus here was the Rufus of the Epistle to the Romans. If so, it would seem that the family had been gathered into the fold of the Church, and in all probability, therefore, the father with them.

Then there is another little morsel of possible evidence which may just be noticed. We find in the Acts of the Apostles, in the list of the prophets and teachers in the Church at Antioch, a ‘Simon, who is called Niger’ {that is, black, the hot African sun having tanned his countenance, perhaps}, and side by side with him one ‘Lucius of Cyrene,’ from which place we know that several of the original brave preachers to the Gentiles in Antioch came. It is possible that this may be our Simon, and that he who was the last to join the band of disciples during the Master’s life and learned courage at the Cross was among the first to apprehend the world-wide destination of the Gospel, and to bear it beyond the narrow bounds of his nation.

At all events, I think we may, with something like confidence, believe that his glimpse of Christ on that morning and his contact with the suffering Saviour ended in his acceptance of Him as his Christ, and in his bearing in a truer sense the Cross after Him.

And so I seek now to gather some of the lessons that seem to me to arise from this incident.

I. First, the greatness of trifles.

If Simon had started from the little village where he lodged five minutes earlier or later, if he had walked a little faster or slower, if he had happened to be lodging on the other side of Jerusalem, or if the whim had taken him to go in at another gate, or if the centurion’s eye had not chanced to alight on him in the crowd, or if the centurion’s fancy had picked out somebody else to carry the Cross, then all his life would have been different. And so it is always. You go down one turning rather than another, and your whole career is coloured thereby. You miss a train, and you escape death. Our lives are like the Cornish rocking stones, pivoted on little points. The most apparently insignificant things have a strange knack of suddenly developing unexpected consequences, and turning out to be, not small things at all, but great and decisive and fruitful.

Let us then look with ever fresh wonder on this marvellous contexture of human life, and on Him that moulds it all to His own perfect purposes. Let us bring the highest and largest principles to bear on the smallest events and circumstances, for you can never tell which of these is going to turn out a revolutionary and formative influence in your life. And if the highest Christian principle is not brought to bear upon the trifles, depend upon it, it will never be brought to bear upon the mighty things. The most part of every life is made up of trifles, and unless these are ruled by the highest motives, life, which is divided into grains like the sand, will have gone by, while we are waiting for the great events which we think worthy of being regulated by lofty principles. ‘Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves.’

Look after the trifles, for the law of life is like that which is laid down by the Psalmist about the Kingdom of Jesus Christ: ‘There shall be a handful of corn in the earth,’ a little seed sown in an apparently ungenial place ‘on the top of the mountains.’ Ay! but this will come of it, ‘The fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon,’ and the great harvest of benediction or of curse, of joy or of sorrow, will come from the minute seeds that are sown in the great trifles of our daily life.

Let us learn the lesson, too, of quiet confidence in Him in whose hands the whole puzzling, overwhelming mystery lies. If a man once begins to think of how utterly incalculable the consequences of the smallest and most commonplace of his deeds may be, how they may run out into all eternity, and like divergent lines may enclose a space that becomes larger and wider the further they travel; if, I say, a man once begins to indulge in thoughts like these, it is difficult for him to keep himself calm and sane at all, unless he believes in the great loving Providence that lies above all, and shapes the vicissitude and mystery of life. We can leave all in His hands-and if we are wise we shall do so-to whom great and small are terms that have no meaning; and who looks upon men’s lives, not according to the apparent magnitude of the deeds with which they are filled, but simply according to the motive from which, and the purpose towards which, these deeds were done.

II. Then, still further, take this other lesson, which lies very plainly here-the blessedness and honour of helping Jesus Christ.

If we turn to the story of the Crucifixion, in John’s Gospel, we find that the narratives of the three other Gospels are, in some points, supplemented by it. In reference to our Lord’s bearing of the Cross, we are informed by John that when He left the judgment hall He was carrying it Himself, as was the custom with criminals under the Roman law. The heavy cross was laid on the shoulder, at the intersection of its arms and stem, one of the arms hanging down in front of the bearer’s body, and the long upright trailing behind.

Apparently our Lord’s physical strength, sorely tried by a night of excitement and the hearings in the High priest’s palace and before Pilate, as well as by the scourging, was unequal to the task of carrying, albeit for that short passage, the heavy weight. And there is a little hint of that sort in the context. In the verse before my text we read, ‘They led Jesus out to crucify Him,’ and in the verse after, ‘they bring,’ or bear ‘Him to the place Golgotha,’ as if, when the procession began, they led Him, and before it ended they had to carry Him, His weakness having become such that He Himself could not sustain the weight of His cross or of His own enfeebled limbs. So, with some touch of pity in their rude hearts, or more likely with professional impatience of delay, and eager to get their task over, the soldiers lay hold of this stranger, press him into the service and make him carry the heavy upright, which trailed on the ground behind Jesus. And so they pass on to the place of execution.

Very reverently, and with few words, one would touch upon the physical weakness of the Master. Still, it does not do us any harm to try to realise how very marked was the collapse of His physical nature, and to remember that that collapse was not entirely owing to the pressure upon Him of the mere fact of physical death; and that it was still less a failure of His will, or like the abject cowardice of some criminals who have had to be dragged to the scaffold, and helped up its steps; but that the reason why His flesh failed was very largely because there was laid upon Him the mysterious burden of the world’s sin. Christ’s demeanour in the act of death, in such singular contrast to the calm heroism and strength of hundreds who have drawn all their heroism and strength from Him, suggests to us that, looking upon His sufferings, we look upon something the significance of which does not lie on the surface; and the extreme pressure of which is to be accounted for by that blessed and yet solemn truth of prophecy and Gospel alike-’The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’

But, apart from that, which does not enter properly into my present contemplations, let us remember that though changed in form, very truly and really in substance, this blessedness and honour of helping Jesus Christ is given to us; and is demanded from us, too, if we are His disciples. He is despised and set at nought still. He is crucified afresh still. There are many men in this day who scoff at Him, mock Him, deny His claims, seek to cast Him down from His throne, rebel against His dominion. It is an easy thing to be a disciple, when all the crowd is crying ‘Hosanna!’ It is a much harder thing to be a disciple when the crowd, or even when the influential cultivated opinion of a generation, is crying ‘Crucify Him! crucify Him!’ And some of you Christian men and women have to learn the lesson that if you are to be Christians you must be Christ’s companions when His back is at the wall as well as when men are exalting and honouring Him, that it is your business to confess Him when men deny Him, to stand by Him when men forsake Him, to avow Him when the avowal is likely to bring contempt upon you from some people, and thus, in a very real sense, to bear His Cross after Him. ‘Let us go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach’;-the tail end of His Cross, which is the lightest! He has borne the heaviest end on His own shoulders; but we have to ally ourselves with that suffering and despised Christ if we are to be His disciples.

I do not dwell upon the lesson often drawn from this story, as if it taught us to ‘take up our cross daily and follow Him.’ That is another matter, and yet is closely connected with that about which I speak; but what I say is, Christ’s Cross has to be carried to-day; and if we have not found out that it has, let us ask ourselves if we are Christians at all. There will be hostility, alienation, a comparative coolness, and absence of a full sense of sympathy with you, in many people, if you are a true Christian. You will come in for a share of contempt from the wise and the cultivated of this generation, as in all generations. The mud that is thrown after the Master will spatter your faces too, to some extent; and if you are walking with Him you will be, to the extent of your communion with Him, objects of the aversion with which many men regard Him. Stand to your colours. Do not be ashamed of Him in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.

And there is yet another way in which this honour of helping the Lord is given to us. As in His weakness He needed some one to aid Him to bear His Cross, so in His glory He needs our help to carry out the purposes for which the Cross was borne. The paradox of a man’s carrying the Cross of Him who carried the world’s burden is repeated in another form. He needs nothing, and yet He needs us. He needs nothing, and yet He needed that ass which was tethered at ‘the place where two ways met,’ in order to ride into Jerusalem upon it. He does not need man’s help, and yet He does need it, and He asks for it. And though He bore Simon the Cyrenian’s sins ‘in His own body on the tree,’ He needed Simon the Cyrenian to help Him to bear the tree, and He needs us to help Him to spread throughout the world the blessed consequences of that Cross and bitter Passion. So to us all is granted the honour, and from us all are required the sacrifice and the service, of helping the suffering Saviour.

III. Another of the lessons which may very briefly be drawn from this story is that of the perpetual recompense and record of the humblest Christian work.

There were different degrees of criminality, and different degrees of sympathy with Him, if I may use the word, in that crowd that stood round the Master. The criminality varied from the highest degree of violent malignity in the Scribes and Pharisees, down to the lowest point of ignorance, and therefore all but entire innocence, on the part of the Roman legionaries, who were merely the mechanical instruments of the order given, and stolidly ‘watched Him there,’ with eyes which saw nothing.

On the other hand, there were all grades of service and help and sympathy, from the vague emotions of the crowd who beat their breasts, and the pity of the daughters of Jerusalem, or the kindly-meant help of the soldiers, who would have moistened the parched lips, to the heroic love of the women at the Cross, whose ministry was not ended even with His life. But surely the most blessed share in that day’s tragedy was reserved for Simon, whose bearing of the Cross may have been compulsory at first, but became, ere it was ended, willing service. But whatever were the degrees of recognition of Christ’s character, and of sympathy with the meaning of His sufferings, yet the smallest and most transient impulse of loving gratitude that went out towards Him was rewarded then, and is rewarded for ever, by blessed results in the heart that feels it.

Besides these results, service for Christ is recompensed, as in the instance before us, by a perpetual memorial. How little Simon knew that ‘wherever in the whole world this gospel was preached, there also, this that he had done should be told for a memorial of him! ‘ How little he understood when he went back to his rural lodging that night, that he had written his name high up on the tablet of the world’s memory, to be legible for ever. Why, men have fretted their whole lives away to win what this man won, and knew nothing of-one line in the chronicle of fame.

So we may say, it shall be always, ‘I will never forget any of their works.’ We may not leave our deeds inscribed in any records that men can read. What of that, If they are written in letters of light in the ‘Lamb’s Book of Life,’ to be read out by Him before His Father and the holy angels, in that last great day? We may not leave any separable traces of our services, any more than the little brook that comes down some gulley on the hillside flows separate from its sisters, with whom it has coalesced, in the bed of the great river, or in the rolling, boundless ocean, What of that so long as the work, in its consequences, shall last? Men that sow some great prairie broadcast cannot go into the harvest-field and say, ‘I sowed the seed from which that ear came, and you the seed from which this one sprang.’ But the waving abundance belongs to them all, and each may be sure that his work survives and is glorified there,-’that he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.’ So a perpetual remembrance is sure for the smallest Christian service.

IV. The last lesson that I would draw is, let us learn from this incident the blessed results of contact with the suffering Christ.

Simon the Cyrenian apparently knew nothing about Jesus Christ when the Cross was laid on his shoulders. He would be reluctant to undertake the humiliating task, and would plod along behind Him for a while, sullen and discontented, but by degrees be touched by more of sympathy, and get closer and closer to the Sufferer. And if he stood by the Cross when it was fixed, and saw all that transpired there, no wonder if, at last, after more or less protracted thought and search, he came to understand who He was that he had helped, and to yield himself to Him wholly.

Yes! dear brethren, Christ’s great saying, ‘I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me,’ began to be fulfilled when He began to be lifted up. The centurion, the thief, this man Simon, by looking on the Cross, learned the Crucified.

And it is the only way by which any of us will ever learn the true mystery and miracle of Christ’s great and loving Being and work. I beseech you, take your places there behind Him, near His Cross; gazing upon Him till your hearts melt, and you, too, learn that He is your Lord, and your Saviour, and your God. The Cross of Jesus Christ divides men into classes as the Last Day will. It, too, parts men-’sheep’ to the right hand, ‘goats’ to the left. If there was a penitent, there was an impenitent thief; if there was a convinced centurion, there were gambling soldiers; if there were hearts touched with compassion, there were mockers who took His very agonies and flung them in His face as a refutation of His claims. On the day when that Cross was reared on Calvary it began to be what it has been ever since, and is at this moment to every soul who hears the Gospel, ‘a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death.’ Contact with the suffering Christ will either bind you to His service, and fill you with His Spirit, or it will harden your hearts, and make you tenfold more selfish-that is to say, ‘tenfold more a child of hell’-than you were before you saw and heard of that divine meekness of the suffering Christ. Look to Him, I beseech you, who bears what none can help Him to carry, the burden of the world’s sin. Let Him bear yours, and yield to Him your grateful obedience, and then take up your cross daily, and bear the light burden of self-denying service to Him who has borne the heavy load of sin for you and all mankind.15:15-21 Christ met death in its greatest terror. It was the death of the vilest malefactors. Thus the cross and the shame are put together. God having been dishonoured by the sin of man, Christ made satisfaction by submitting to the greatest disgrace human nature could be loaded with. It was a cursed death; thus it was branded by the Jewish law, De 21:23. The Roman soldiers mocked our Lord Jesus as a King; thus in the high priest's hall the servants had mocked him as a Prophet and Saviour. Shall a purple or scarlet robe be matter of pride to a Christian, which was matter of reproach and shame to Christ? He wore the crown of thorns which we deserved, that we might wear the crown of glory which he merited. We were by sin liable to everlasting shame and contempt; to deliver us, our Lord Jesus submitted to shame and contempt. He was led forth with the workers of iniquity, though he did no sin. The sufferings of the meek and holy Redeemer, are ever a source of instruction to the believer, of which, in his best hours, he cannot be weary. Did Jesus thus suffer, and shall I, a vile sinner, fret or repine? Shall I indulge anger, or utter reproaches and threats because of troubles and injuries?Worshipped him - Mocked him with the "appearance" of homage. The word "worship" here denotes only the respect and honor shown to princes and kings. It does not refer to any "religious" homage. They regarded him as foolishly and madly claiming to be a king - not as claiming to be divine. Mr 15:21-37. Crucifixion and Death of the Lord Jesus. ( = Mt 27:32-50; Lu 23:26-46; Joh 19:17-30).

See on [1519]Joh 19:17-30.

Ver. 21-37. To make this history complete, all the other evangelists must be consulted, and compared with Mark, who omits many considerable passages recorded by them; we have done it in our notes on Matthew 27:32-50, See Poole on "Matthew 27:32", and following verses to Matthew 27:50, to which I refer the reader, both for the understanding the several passages of this relation, and reconciling any small differences between the relations of the several evangelists. It is the observation of some, that when in Scripture the father is made known by the son, or sons, it signifieth some more eminency in the sons than in the father. Many think that this Simon was a pagan: though it be not certain, yet it is not improbable, that this Alexander was the same who is mentioned Acts 19:33, persecuted there by the Jews; and Rufus, he whom Paul saluteth, Romans 16:13, calling him chosen in the Lord. They say they were both at Rome, where they judge St. Mark was when he wrote this history, and that Mark mentions them as those who could attest the truth of this part of the history. The father bare Christ’s cross, (or one end of it), there is all we read of him. The sons believe on him who died upon it. So free is Divine grace, fixing where it pleaseth. Concerning the wine mingled with myrrh, we spake in our notes on Matthew 27:32-50. Some think our Saviour’s friends gave it him to refresh him; but it is most probable it was given him to intoxicate him, that he might be less sensible of the pain he should endure upon the cross: whatsoever they intended, our Saviour refused it, having wine to uphold him which they knew not of. For other things relating to this story, see the notes on Matthew 27:32-50. And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian,.... See Gill on Matthew 27:32;

who passed by; as they were leading Jesus to be crucified:

coming out of the country; from some country village hard by, according to the Syriac, and Vulgate Latin versions; or out of the field, as the Persic and Ethiopic: he might have been in the field, about some rural business; or, as Dr. Lightfoot conjectures, to fetch wood from thence, which was lawful to be done on a feast day, with some provisos, according to the Jewish canon, which runs thus (t);

"they may bring wood out of the field, (i.e. on a feast day, as this was,) of that which is gathered together, and out of a place that is fenced about, and even of that which is scattered abroad: what is a fenced place? whatever is near to a city, the words of R. Judah. R. Jose says, whatever they go into by a door, and even within the border of the sabbath.''

And according to the commentators (u), it must be wood that is gathered together, and that lies not in an open field, but in a fenced place, and this near the city; at least with in two thousand cubits, a sabbath day's journey.

The father of Alexander and Rufus; who were men well known when Mark wrote his Gospel, and very likely men of eminence among Christians: mention is made of Alexander in Acts 19:33 and of Rufus, in Romans 16:13, which some have thought the same as here; but whether they are or not, is not certain: however, they obliged "Simon"

to bear his cross: the cross of Christ, after him; See Gill on Matthew 27:32.

(t) Misn. Betza, c. 4. sect. 2.((u) Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. Vid. Maimon. Hilch. Yom Tob, c. 2. sect. 14.

And they {3} compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

(3) The rage of the wicked has no measure; meanwhile, even the weakness of Christ, who was in pain under the heavy burden of the cross, manifestly shows that a lamb is led to be sacrificed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Mark 15:21. See on Matthew 27:32. Comp. Luke 23:26.

ἵνα σταυρώσουσιν] See the critical remarks. On the future after ἵνα, see Winer, p. 257 f. [E. T. 360 f.].

Only Mark designates Simon by his sons. Whether Alexander be identical with the person named at Acts 19:33, or with the one at 1 Timothy 1:20, 2 Timothy 2:17, or with neither of these two, is just as much a matter of uncertainty, as is the possible identity of Rufus with the person mentioned at Romans 16:13. Mark takes for granted that both of them were known, hence they doubtless were Christians of mark; comp. Mark 10:46. But how frequent were these names, and how many of the Christians that were at that time well known we know nothing of! As to ἀγγαρ., see on Matthew 5:41. The notice ἐρχόμενον ἀπʼ ἀγροῦ, which Luke also, following Mark, gives (but not Matthew), is one of the traces which are left in the Synoptical narratives that the day of the crucifixion was not the first day of the feast (see on John 18:28). Comp. Bleek, Beitr. p. 137; Ebrard, p. 513. It is not, indeed, specified how far Simon had come from the country (comp. Mark 16:12) to the city, but there is no limitation added having reference to the circumstances of the festal Sabbath, so that the quite open and general nature of the remark, in connection with the other tokens of a work-day (Mark 15:42; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:56; Matthew 27:59 f.), certainly suggests to us such a work-day. The ἀγγαρεύοντες being the Roman soldiers, there is the less room on the basis of the text for thinking, with Lange, of a popular jest, which had just laid hold of a Sabbath-breaker who happened to come up.Mark 15:21-26. The crucifixion (Matthew 27:32-37, Luke 23:26; Luke 23:33-38).21. they compel] The condemned were usually obliged to carry either the entire cross, or the cross-beams fastened together like the letter V, with their arms bound to the projecting ends. Hence the term furcifers = “cross-bearer.” “Patibulum ferat per urbem, deinde affigatur cruci.” This had a reference to our Lord being typified by Isaac bearing the wood of the burnt offering, Genesis 22:6. But exhausted by all He had undergone, our Lord sank under the weight laid upon Him, and the soldiers had not proceeded far from the city gate, when they met a man whom they could “compel” or “impress” into their service. The original word translated “compel” is a Persian word. At regular stages throughout Persia (Hdt. viii. 98; Xen. Cyrop. viii. 6, 17) mounted couriers were kept ready to carry the royal despatches. Hence the verb (angariare Vulg.) denotes (1) to despatch as a mounted courier; (2) to impress, force to do some service. It occurs also in Matthew 5:41, “Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”

Simon a Cyrenian] The man thus impressed was passing by, and coming from the country (Luke 23:26). His name was Simon, a Hellenistic Jew, of Cyrene, in northern Africa, the inhabitants of which district had a synagogue at Jerusalem (Acts 2:10; Acts 6:9).

the father of Alexander and Rufus] St Mark alone adds this. Like “Bartimæus, the son of Timæus,” these words testify to his originality. From the way they are mentioned it is clear that these two persons must have been well known to the early Christians. Rufus has been identified with one of the same name saluted by St Paul, Romans 16:13.

to bear his cross] The cause of execution was generally inscribed on a white tablet, called in Latin titulus (“qui causam pœnæ indicaret,” Sueton. Calig. 32). It was borne either suspended from the neck, or carried before the sufferer. The latter was probably the mode adopted in our Lord’s case. And Simon may have borne both title and Cross. St Mark does not mention our Lord’s words on the way to the women (Luke 23:28-31).Mark 15:21. Ἐρχόμενον, coming) either in order to be present at the Passover, or in order to see what would be done to Jesus.—ἀπʼ ἀγροῦ) Where perhaps he had his home. Happy man, in that he was not present, and had no part in the accusation: but in consequence of that very fact he was the less agreeable to the Jews.—Ἀλεξάνδρου καὶ Ῥούφου, of Alexander and Rufus) These two, at the time when Mark wrote, were better known than their father, inasmuch as he is denominated from them [instead of vice varsâ]: They were distinguished persons among the disciples (see Romans 16:13 as to Rufas, who also is set down in that passage as one better known than his mother, though Paul seems to have regarded her as his mother at Jerusalem): which is an evidence whereby the truth of the whole fact, as it happened, may be perceived.Verse 21. - And they compel one passing by Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to go with them, that he might bear his cross. It seems from St. Matthew (Matthew 27:32) that our Savior bore his own cross from the palace to the gate of the city. The tablet, with the inscription afterwards attached to the cross, would be carried before him; and a certain number of soldiers would be appointed to go with him to the place of execution, and to see the sentence carried out. Having passed out through the gate of the city, they met one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and they compel him (ἀγγαρεύουσι); literally, they impress him. The Cyrenians had a synagogue in Jerusalem (Acts 6:9), and this Simon may probably have been one of those who had come up to keep the Passover. He must have been a Hellenistic Jew, a native of Cyrene, on the north coast of Africa. Alexander and Rufus, his sons, were no doubt, at the time when St. Mark wrote his Gospel, well-known disciples of our Lord. St. Paul, writing to the Romans (Romans 16:13), sends a special salutation to Rufus, "chosen in the Lord, and his mother, and mine;" a delicate recognition by St. Paul of something like maternal care bestowed upon him by the mother of Rufus. It is probable that his father Simon, and perhaps his brother Alexander, may have been dead by this time. Rufus is also honorably mentioned by Polycarp in his Epistle to the Philippians. There is a tradition, mentioned by Cornelius a Lapide, that Rufus became a bishop in Spain, and that Alexander suffered martyrdom. To go with them, that he might bear his cross. St. Luke (Luke 23:26) adds the touching words, "to bear it after Jesus (φέρειν ὔπισθεν τοῦ Ἰησοῦ)." Compel

Better impress, as Rev. See on in margin. Matthew 5:41. Note the accuracy in designating Simon.

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