Mark 15:21

I. THERE MAY BE A BLESSING IN ENFORCED SERVICE. Simon the Cyrenian is raised into the light of history; perhaps to teach us this. No nobler honor for the Christian than to reflect, "I have been called to bear the cross." And for some to reflect, "I was forced into carrying the cross I would have refused, or left on the ground." So with that other Simon, surnamed Peter.

II. PAIN IS RATHER TO BE STRUGGLED WITH THAN ARTIFICIALLY SUPPRESSED, We seek anodynes for our troubles. Jesus teaches us to react against them by the force of faith. In the hour of duty we are to seek presence, not absence, of mind; to collect our faculties, not to distract them.

III. WHAT IS PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE MAY BE MORALLY IMPOSSIBLE. Christ could have come down from the cross in the former sense, could not in the latter. He presents the ideal of suffering service for us, and the revelation of God's ways. There may be things which God cannot do, in our way of speaking, because he knows they are not well to be done. We, at ]cast, cannot save ourselves at the expense of duty, and must be content to appear foolish or impotent to many. Suffering and salvation are facts eternally wedded and at one. - J.

And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian.
I. In going through the history of the fact, our thoughts must glance along THE LINKS OF THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE LAST APPEAL OF PILATE, "Behold, the Man," AND THE SUBJECT WHICH CLAIMS OUR ATTENTION NOW.

II. WE PASS FROM THE HISTORIC FACT TO THE CHALLENGE FOUNDED UPON IT. In view of what is now meant by cross bearing, we ask, "Who among you is willing to become a cross bearer for Christ?" The only cross in prospect now is a cross for the soul. Carrying a cross after Christ means, for one thing, some kind of suffering for Christ. View the cross bearing as something practical, in distinction from something only emotional, and answer the question, "who is now willing to be a cross bearer for Christ?" "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and your children!" On the roadside near an old Hungarian town, grey with the stains of time and weather, there is a stone image of the great Cross bearer, and under it is sculptured this inscription in Latin; "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow." "The thorough woe-begoneness of that image," remarks an old scholar, "used to haunt me long: that old bit of granite — the beau-ideal of human sorrow, weakness, and woe-begoneness. To this day it will come back upon me." Natural sensibility is not irreligious; but, considered in itself alone, it is not religion. With all the pain of bursting heart, and all the leverage of straining strength, Simon, bearing the cross for Christ, is the perpetual type of one who not only feels for Christ, but who tries to do something. I charge you by the crown of thorns, that you shrink from no ridicule that comes upon you simply for Christ's sake. On July 1st, , when John Huss had to die for Christ's sake, and when, on the way to the dread spot, the priests put upon his head a large paper cap, painted with grotesque figures of devils, and inscribed with the word, "Hoeresiarcha!" he said, "Our Lord wore a crown of thorns for me; why should not I wear this for Him?" I charge you by the truth that Christ was not ashamed of you, that you be not ashamed of Christ. In view of the strength assured to each cross bearer, who is willing?

(Charles Stanford, D. D.)

Christ comes forth from Pilate's hall with the cumbrous wood upon His shoulder, but through weariness He travels slowly, and His enemies urgent for His death, and half afraid, from His emaciated appearance, that He may die before He reaches the place of execution, allow another to carry His burden. The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel, they cannot spare Him the agonies of dying on the cross, they will therefore remit the labour of carrying it. They place the cross upon Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country. We do not know what may have been the colour of Simon's face, but it was most likely black. Simon was an African; he came from Cyrene. Alas poor African, thou hast been compelled to carry the cross even until now. Hail, ye despised children of the sun, ye follow first after the King in the march of woe. We are not sure that Simon was a disciple of Christ; he may have been a friendly spectator; yet one would think the Jews would naturally select a disciple if they could. Coming fresh from the country, not knowing what was going on, he joined with the mob, and they made him carry the cross. Whether a disciple then or not, we have every reason to believe that he became so afterwards; he was the father, we read, of Alexander and Rufus, two persons who appear to have been well-known in the early Church; let us hope that salvation came to his house when he was compelled to bear the Saviour's cross.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Little did these people know that they were making this man immortal! Notice in this connection:

I. THE GREATNESS OF TRIFLES. Had Simon started from the little village where he lived five minutes earlier or later, had he walked a little faster or slower, had he happened to be lodging on the other side of Jerusalem, had he gone in at another gate, had the centurion not fixed on him to carry the cross, all his life would have been different. And so it is always. Our lives are like the Cornish rocking stones, pivoted on little points.

1. Let us bring the highest and largest principles to bear on the smallest events and circumstances.

2. Let us repose in quiet confidence on Him in whose hands the whole puzzling overwhelming mystery lies. To Him "great" and "small" are terms that have no meaning. He looks upon men's lives, not according to the apparent magnitude of the deeds with which they are filled, but simply according to the motives from which, and the purpose towards which, they were done.

II. THE BLESSEDNESS AND HONOUR OF HELPING JESUS CHRIST. Though He bore Simon's sins in His Own Body on the tree, He needed Simon to help Him to bear the cross; and He needs us to help Him to spread throughout the world the blessed consequences of that cross. For us all there is granted the honour, and from us all there is required the sacrifice and the service of helping the suffering Saviour of men.

III. THE PERPETUAL RECOMPENSE AND RECORD OF HUMBLEST CHRISTIAN WORK. How little Simon thought, 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 forever. God never forgets, or allows to be forgotten, anything done for Him. We may not leave our works on any record 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 the last great day. We may not leave any separate traces of our service, any more than the little brook that comes down some galley 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?

IV. THE BLESSED RESULTS OF CONTACT WITH THE SUFFERING CHRIST. Only by standing near the cross, and gazing on the Crucified Jesus, will any of us ever learn the true mystery and miracle of Christ's great and loving Being and work. Take your place there behind Him, near His cross; gazing upon Him till your heart melts, and you, too, learn that He is your Lord, and Saviour, and God. Look to Him who bears what none can help Him to carry — the burden of the world's sin; let Him bear yours; 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.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The Persian monarchs had a service of carriers or post, and these were called angari; they were allowed to seize on any horses and equipages they needed, to demand entertainment wherever they came, free of expense and this proved a great grievance. The word passed into use among the Greeks (ἀγγαρεύειν), and the Romans exercised pretty freely the same rights of requisitioning. When the Baptist said to the soldiers, "Do violence to no man," he doubtless referred to this system of extorting the use of their horses, their beasts, even their own work, out of subject people, without payment.

(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)

We are not told as much, but we may conclude that Jesus had fallen under the weight. He seemed unable to bear the cross any further. Perhaps He had fainted from the loss of blood and from the long fasting. He sank on the pavement and could bear the wood no longer. Something of the sort must have occurred, or the centurion would not have halted the convoy, and ordered that the cross should be transferred to another. This was not done out of compassion, but out of necessity. Jesus could not bear it any further; therefore, in order that the place of execution might be quickly reached, someone else must be got to carry it. No Roman would carry the cross. To do so would dishonour him. The soldiers looked out for someone, and seized on Simon. They were wont thus to requisition men and animals for the service of the State. Simon was a foreigner, a native of Lybia in Africa, so dark-complexioned that he went by the name of Niger, or the Black Man. He was coming into the town, probably laden with the wood for the fire on which the Easter lamb was to be burnt, for on this day of the preparation the Jews were wont to go out of the city and collect the necessary wood, lay it on their shoulders and bring it home. So now, on the day of the preparation, the Lord carries on His shoulders the wood for the new sacrifice, on which He, the Lamb of God, was to have His life consumed. As He goes, He meets Simon carrying the wood into Jerusalem for the typical lamb. The soldiers at once seize Simon, make him cast down his load, and take on his shoulders the burden of Christ's cross. He was the first; he, this African, to take up the cross, and follow Christ; he, the representative of the race of Ham, the most despised of all the descendants of Noah, that on which the yoke of bondage seems ever to have pressed. And now, how wonderful, if this our conjecture be true. The Romans and Greek, representatives of Japhet; the Jews, representatives of Shem; and Simon, the representative of Ham, are all united in one stream, setting forward to Calvary. Each, this day, gives a pledge of conversion; the centurion, the son of Japhet; the thief, the son of Israel, of Shem; and, first of all, the Cyrenian, the descendant of Ham...Simon was compelled. He was not, at first, willing to take it; if, as we suppose, he was carrying his bundle of wood, he was constrained to lay that down. So must we lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, that we may follow after Jesus, bearing His reproach. Simon shrank both from the burden and from the shame, and the natural man shrinks from the cross of Christ, shrinks from the cross that God lays on us. He compels us to bear the cross; and though we may wish to escape it at first, yet, if like Simon we submit, and bear it in a right spirit, it will bring us, as it did Simon, to meekness and patience, and a more perfect knowledge of Christ.

(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)

The shape of the cross on which our Lord suffered has been much debated. Some ancient Fathers, fancying they found a typical reference in the crossing of the hands over the head of the scapegoat, and in the peculiar mode in which Jacob blessed his grandsons, often assumed that it was in the form of what is commonly called a St. Andrew's Cross; others again, seeing in the mystical mark or Tau set upon the foreheads of the righteous in Ezekiel's vision a foreshadowing of the cross, concluded that it was like that which bears the name of St. Anthony, in form like a capital T. It is far more probable that it was what is known familiarly as the Latin Cross. It was prefigured by the transverse spits which the priest placed in the Pascal lamb. Its four arms, pointing to the four quarters of the globs, symbolized "the breadth, and length, and depth, and height" of Christ's universal Church. It is a strong argument in favour of this form that "the inscription" was set above the head of the Crucified, which would be impossible in either of the other forms.

(H. M. Luckock, D. D.)

Jesus was pleased to take man unto His aid, not only to represent His Own need, and the dolorousness of His Passion, but to consign the duty unto man, that we must enter into a fellowship of Christ's sufferings, taking up a cross of martyrdom when God requires us, enduring affronts, being patient under affliction, loving them that hate us, and being benefactors to our enemies, abstaining from sensual and intemperate delight, forbidding ourselves lawful recreations when we have an end of the spirit to serve upon the ruins of the body's strength, mortifying our desires, breaking our own will, not seeking ourselves, being entirely resigned to God. These are the cross and the nails, and the spear and the whip, and all the instruments of a Christian's passion.

(Bishop Jeremy Taylor.)

A scene for all the ages of time and all the cycles of eternity; a cross with Jesus at the one end of it, and Simon at the other, suggesting the idea to every troubled soul, that no one need ever carry a whole cross. You have only half a cross to carry. If you are in poverty, Jesus was poor, and He comes and takes the other end of the cross. If you are in persecution, Jesus was persecuted too. If you are in any kind of trouble, you have a sympathizing Redeemer. Let this be a lesson to each of us. If you find a man in persecution, or in sickness, or in trouble of any kind, go up to him and say, "My brother, I have come to help you. You take hold of one end of this cross, and I will take hold of the other end, and Jesus Christ will come in and take hold of the middle of the cross; after a while there will be no cross at all."

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

Simon was probably a pilgrim to the feast; possibly had not known of the existence of Jesus Christ before; is not now seeking Him. But Christ crosses his path; and forced to yield a detested service, Simon learns in the brief companionship of a few hours enough to lead him to yield to Christ the service of a life. There is something very characteristic about this story. The Saviour is perpetually crossing men's paths in life; doing so sometimes painfully with some awful thought, painful aspect, thwarting some plan, spoiling some holiday pleasure, or some effort to get gain. And constantly we see the pain of first acquaintance, the early resentment against the gospel for spoiling plans and pleasures, giving way, and changing into lifelong fidelity.

(R. Glover.)So he got linked forever to the Lord!

(J. Morison, D. D.)

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