The Crucifixion, Told By Simon of Cyrene
Simon Was Asked To Carry The Cross For Jesus
Simon was minding his own business coming up to Jerusalem for the Passover, when some Roman soldiers conscripted him to carry the cross for Jesus. I used the material in this hub for my sermon on Passion Sunday. Sometimes it helps to look at things from a different angle. Simon's feelings are imagined but are based on the Bible records of the crucifixion, from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Simon Was From Libya
Hello my name is Simon and I come from Cyrene in Africa, you know it better today as Libya. I had travelled up to Jerusalem at Passover to sell my goods. I had two donkeys with me and my two sons Alexander and Rufus. We were just minding our own business and going on our way when we could see a great crowd coming towards us. I said to the boys, "Just stand back out of the way and let this lot through, it's none of our business. " Then I saw that there were three poor souls carrying crosses up the hill. The one in front was really struggling. Well you know the Romans always whip them within an inch of their lives before they crucify them. It wasn't the first time I'd seen men going to the cross. We stood right back so as not to be noticed, but that's a bit difficult when you are as big as me. The next thing I knew one of the Roman soldiers was saying,"He's never going to make it, this Jesus, we must get someone to carry his cross or he'll be dead before we get there and where's the fun in that. Look here's a great brute of a man I'll get him to carry the cross" And that was me. I just had time to tell the boys to look after everything and I would find them at the temple.
Carrying the Cross
Then I was lifting the cross off the shoulders of the staggering man. He stumbled at the sudden lack of weight on him. He walked ahead. It was no problem to me carrying that cross. I was built for the job, but as we toiled up that hill I began to wonder about this Jesus they had spoken of. I had heard a little bit about him. They had said that he was always healing people and doing good. So why were they crucifying him? It was a bit of a puzzle. He walked and stumbled ahead of me, just wearing a loin cloth. His back was streaked with the marks of the whip. I hoped he didn't collapse before we arrived at the crucifixion site, or the Romans might decide to crucify me instead.
The King Of The Jews
But he made it. They told me to lay the cross down on the ground and said I could go. I don't know why but I wanted to see more, to find out about this man and why he was dying. So I stayed. They nailed him to the cross there on the ground and then they lifted it up and pushed it into a small hole in the ground. They put a notice above him in three languages. It said "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
The Two Criminals
There were two others being crucified. Someone in the crowd told me they were criminals. I asked about Jesus. They said he had done lots of good things but the high priest had it in for him.
Then, would you believe it one of the criminals starting swearing at Jesus. He said,"If you're the King of the Jews save yourself and us why don't you?" only not quite so politely.Then the other one told him off and said, "What do you think you're doing swearing at him? You and me deserve to be here but he's done nothing wrong." Then he looked at Jesus and said, "Please remember me when you come into your kingdom, Lord." Then I realized he believed Jesus was indeed a special person. And Jesus very gently said to him, "Today you will be in paradise with me." And the criminal looked so relieved. Jesus had such love for that criminal to give him reassurance when he himself was suffering so much.
Then I saw this love for others again because he spoke to a woman just at the foot of his cross with a man called John. He said Mary his mother should treat this John as her son and John should treat her as his mother. What tender care when he was suffering so much. No wonder I could not leave but must see all that happened with this amazing man.
The soldiers were sorting Jesus's clothes into four piles , one for each of them. Then they came to his robe and it was a beautiful complete piece of material so rather than spoil it by cutting it up they decided to throw dice to see which of them would keep it. We first came to the crucifixion site at nine in the morning, when it got to midday everything started to get dark. Even the birds flew home because they thought it was time to roost. Jesus said, "I thirst." And someone put some wine on a sponge and held it up to him on a thin stick.Later on he suddenly shouted out, "My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" It was the most terrible thing I had even heard.
When it got to three in the afternoon Jesus said,"It is finished." And then his head fell forward and he died. But those words he spoke were so powerful, not like someone giving up on things, but the words of someone who has been given a job to do, the words of someone who has completed an important task successfully.
At this moment there was an earthquake and one of the soldiers said," This man was surely the son of God."
Later I learned from my boys waiting at the temple that at this moment there was a great comotion at the temple because the curtain concealing the Holy of Holies, the most sacred part of the temple, had ripped open from the bottom to the top.
Why? What Evil Has He Done?
You would think I had seen enough now and would leave with conflicting thoughts in my mind. But no, I wanted to know more of this special person. I decided to see what would happen next and if possible talk with his followers, perhaps even his mother.
We waited quite some time and then the soldiers broke the legs of the men on each side of Jesus to finish them off. Apparently the Jewish authorities wanted the bodies taken away before their Sabbath day. When they discovered Jesus was already dead they didn't break his legs but they pierced his side and blood and water came out in a sudden gush. Then something strange happened. A man called Joseph of Arimathea came to wrap the body and take it to his tomb. They told me he was an influential man who belonged to the council of priests and teachers who had taken Jesus to Pilate the Roman Governor to have him sentenced to death. Apparently he had not agreed to their decision. With him was a man called Nicodemus.
What It Means For You
So Jesus was put in a tomb and we all left. I spoke to John and asked if I could meet him later. He was very sad and distressed but told me where I could find him . I went to the temple and found my boys. They were very worried by all that had happened and I filled them in on the things I had heard and seen.
I did meet John on another day, and what a wonderful day that was, but that story is for another time. Today I will leave you to ponder on the death of Jesus and what it means for you.