Matthew 27:27-66; Mark 15:21-47; Luke 23:26-56
Do you remember hearing the television ad: The toughest job you’ll ever love? The ad agency, Ted Bates & Co. coined the slogan for the Peace Corps in 1962. It challenged young people and many volunteered to discover the struggles facing other peoples of the world and to offer educational, medical, or other forms of help. Though the volunteers would discover difficulties along the way, they would also find rewards in serving others.
I am reminded of that slogan as I read the Biblical story, The Day Jesus Died. While the man’s name and his homeplace are not mentioned in the Spark Bible, it is found in the gospel records. He is Simon of Cyrene.
Today we read:
It was a very sad day when Jesus died. The soldiers who arrested Jesus teased Him for pretending to be a king. They took His clothes and put a king’s purple cloak on Him. They made a crown of vines with sharp thorns and put it on Jesus’ head. Ouch!
The soldiers made Jesus carry a heavy wooden cross. The cross was too heavy for Him. Jesus fell and skinned His knees, and the cross tumbled to the ground. A man in the crowd carried the cross the rest of the way.
Simon of Cyrene was enlisted to ensure that the crucifixion of Jesus was not delayed by His inability to shoulder His cross. Simon did not volunteer for this task. Some might say Simon was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps Simon grew weary carrying the cross to Golgotha, but he carried on.
We do not know whether Jesus and Simon exchanged any words. Perhaps their communication may have been what each one derived by looking into the other man’s eyes.
I like to think the Simon may have found that to be the toughest job he ever loved. Like the Peace Corps, Simon, I suspect, was glad that he could ease that burden of Jesus. In retrospect, he may have been particularly pleased to offer assistance and may have considered himself to be the right person at the right time to suffer and to ease His Savior and Lord’s suffering.
O God, we have found ourselves in situations when we could use a helping hand. We thank You for the “Simons,” who have come to our aid. Hear our prayers of thanks for First Responders and bless their ministries to help those in distress. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.