The Cross-Bearer
Luke 23:26
And as they led him away, they laid hold on one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross…

There is a series of very beautiful pictures in the cathedral at Antwerp, which represent Christ hearing His cross from the Praetorium to Calvary. These pictures embody the popular idea of Christ's weakness and exhaustion. In one He stands calm and erect, in another He is bending under the weight of the cross, and in another He has fallen beneath the load that was laid upon Him. It is at this stage of the proceedings that Simon, who is passing by, is arrested, and compelled to bear the cross after Christ.

I. THIS WAS A COMPULSORY CROSS. Simon had no choice but to bear it. And so it is still. No life without a cross.

1. Suffering is a cross we are compelled to bear. To some life is a perpetual cross-bearing. It may be a physical cross, or a mental cross, or a spiritual cross, but day by day they must bear it.

2. Death is a cross we are compelled to bear.

3. Every attempt to follow Christ and to bear His cross will be a determined struggle.

II. THIS WAS AN UNEXPECTED CROSS. The trials we anticipate in life seldom overtake us, but those we least expect are laid upon us. The cross is often laid upon us at an unexpected time, and in an unexpected place; but there is no escape, it must be borne.

1. Sometimes the cross we bear is self. appointed. It is so with much of the physical pain and social distress we see around us. These afflictions come upon us unexpectedly, but they are often the fruit of our own folly and sin.

2. Sometimes the cross we bear is divinely appointed. If Simon's cross was unexpected, Christ's was foreseen. The cross was not a surprise to Christ. If Simon's cross was compulsory, Christ's was voluntary.

III. THIS WAS AN HONOURABLE CROSS. "To bear His cross." Had not Simon rendered this brief service to Christ, his name might never have been known; but now it shall be held in everlasting remembrance. The cross ennobles man both for time and eternity; it is an honourable cross.

1. This was a cross borne for Christ. We often hear of Christ bearing the cross for sinners, but here is a sinner bearing the cross for Christ. The value of the cross depends upon the spirit in which we take it up.

2. There is something very beautiful in the thought that the cross borne for Christ is borne with Christ. Whether it be His cross or ours, we share His companionship.

(J. T. Woodhouse.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.

WEB: When they led him away, they grabbed one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it after Jesus.

Compulsion and Invitation; the Human and the Divine Methods
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