We think of Jesus bearing the weight of our sin on the cross, but there is one man who also felt the weight of the cross — Simon the Cyrenian. Mark 15:21 tells us he was “coming from the country” to Jerusalem. He may have been traveling alone or with his family which included two sons, “Alexander and Rufus.” We don’t know since scripture gives us no more detail about him.
There he is, “passing by on his way from the country (NIV),” when he encounters a crowd — Roman soldiers and a man carrying a cross. Scripture doesn’t tell us if Simon even had time to think about what was happening. Before he knew it, he was “seized” and they “placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus (Luke 23:26).” Scripture doesn’t specifically say why they enlisted Simon to carry it. Matthew, Mark and Luke all say Simon was forced to carry the cross after “they led Him (Jesus) out to crucify Him (Mark 15:20, NASB).”
What was going through Simon’s mind as he felt the weight of the cross upon him, seeing Jesus in front of him being led to his death. What a burden to carry, knowing you were helping with the execution of Jesus. The very thing you are holding is what will be used to kill Jesus. You didn’t ask to be put in this situation, but here you are participating in the death of Jesus.
It’s vivid picture of our sin. The cross is a ghastly instrument that condemns us for our sin. We carry this burden of our sin, feeling its weight on our shoulders. Without Jesus, we face condemnation for our sin; certain eternal death. But when we follow Jesus, as Simon did when he carried the cross, when the cross is erected Jesus will be nailed to it instead of us. He will suffer on that cross instead of us. The weight of the cross is removed from us. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1, NASB).”
© 2022, Chris G Thelen
And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)