GOD's ARMY, CONTENDING for the FAITH
Sign up Latest Topics
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment  
murjahel

Avatar / Picture

Moderator
Registered:
Posts: 8,281
Reply with quote  #1 

SIMON CYRENE, the CROSS BEARER

Jesus was betrayed by a friend. This broke His heart, and the day that surpasses all previous days of history had begun. Jesus was led to Caiaphas’ house and was falsely accused. Then they took Him to Pilate, and there He was again falsely accused. Pilate questioned Him, and then Pilate sought a way to not have this obviously innocent man to be punished. He gave the people a choice between a feared and hated criminal, named Barabbas, and this Jesus, a healer and teacher of righteousness. The people chose to have Barabbas freed. Jesus was then beaten, spat upon, mocked, crowned with thorns.

The trip to Golgotha, for a crucifixion, began. Six soldiers led by a centurion walked with Jesus. One carried a sign, supposed to notify on-lookers of the crime of the criminal... but Jesus’ sign said, ‘This is Jesus, King of the Jews’. The walk was a long one, walking about the town, so many would see and know the fate of criminals. Jesus was weak from the 39 stripes, the mocking and jeering had weakened His stamina, and the long night of no sleep made Him unable to carry this heavy cross. He falls under the weight of the cross. The soldiers press into service a slave from Cyrene, named Simon.

The Old Testament had prophesied that the Messiah would be weak in His crucifixion time.

Psalms 109:24-25

"My knees are weak from fasting; and My flesh has grown lean, without fatness– I also have become a reproach to them; When they see Me, they wag their head."

This man, Simon, was from the city of Cyrene. Cyrene was a city of Libya, in North Africa. (latitude 32 degrees 40' North, longitude 22 degrees, 15' East) This city was therefore West of Egypt, and separated from Egypt by the Libyan desert. It was where Barca and Tripoli are now. This city was 2000 feet above sea level, and ten miles from the ocean. There was a high range of mountains to the south, (about 80 miles away). This range of mountains sheltered this area from the Sahara heat. The area has a great variety of climate and vegetation. The soil is very fertile.

Cyrene was a Greek colony in 630 B.C. It was a center known for its great education. Many Jews were transported there in the dispersion. The Jewish occupants and the converts of such made frequent trips to Jerusalem for feast times. In Jerusalem, the Jews who had been raised in Cyrene, had their own synagogue (Acts 6:9). At the time of the persecution of Stephen, some Cyrenians converted to Christianity. Some of the Christian converts of Cyrene went to Antioch, and preached there the ‘Word ... to the Jews only.’ (Acts 11:19)

Matthew 27:32 NAS

‘As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene, named Simon, who they pressed into service (compelled in the KJV, Greek aggareuo, to be a courier, to press or draft into public service) to bear His cross."

Mark 15:21 NAS

" They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear His cross."

Luke 23:26 NAS

"And they led Him away, they seized (KJV ‘laid hold upon’, Greek epilambanomai, to take hold of)a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed (Gk, epiththemi, imposed upon) on him, the cross, to carry behind Jesus."

Paul mentioned Rufus and his mother, as being in the church of Rome.

Romans 16:13

"Salute Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine."

So, this Simon, had two sons... Alexander and Rufus. ‘Alexander’ meant ‘defender of men’, and ‘Rufus’ meant ‘red, or reddish’. The name Rufus was a common ‘slave’ name.

Mark, at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus was a young person, and he is the one who mentions Simon as being the father of Alexander and Rufus. So, it is likely that Mark and these two boys were near the same age. Likely, Simon was in Jerusalem for the Passover feast, and had brought his family with him. These two young persons became well known in the Christian church, and Mark seems to assume the readers all knew who these two were. The mother of the two sons, and wife of Simon, had obviously done some kindness to Paul, and Paul considered her like his own mother.

Since Rufus and his mother are mentioned in the list of those in the church at Rome, it is likely that they had been taken there in their ‘servitude’. This pressing into service by the Romans may have been made permanent, and this family was transported to Rome to serve further. In the lists of names of the servants of Nero, we do find the names of brothers, Alexander and Rufus. So it seems that these two became household servants of the most wicked and despicable man of the age... Nero. Servants of the emperor of Rome, indentured to the most anti-Christian gentile of the time, these two not only had found Jesus as Savior, but were in the toughest place to serve their Lord. Rufus, is called by Paul to be ‘chosen of the Lord’... so, he likely was one of the leaders of the church in Rome.

 

CROSS BEARING CAN LEAVE WOUNDS.

Matthew 16:24 (KJV)

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Mark 10:21-22 (KJV)

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.

22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

This is quite a challenge, in fact, it is more than that, it is a command. We are to bear a cross. Sometimes, we feel we do not deserve the cross, like Simon may have initially felt. We may want to put it down, let another carry it. Yet, sometimes, even though we do not feel we deserve the cross, we must carry one.

Crosses are heavy, and they are not just a weight, they are a place where we will be nailed, lifted up for the world to mock, and left to die there. Yet, there is also a resurrection for us. We do not bear these crosses to be defeated there, but we bear the cross to go to the victory Jesus has assured us by His cross.

Jesus was betrayed by a friend. This broke His heart, and the day that surpasses all previous days of history had begun. Jesus was led to Caiaphas’ house and was falsely accused. Then they took Him to Pilate, and there He was again falsely accused. Pilate questioned Him, and then Pilate sought a way to not have this obviously innocent man to be punished. He gave the people a choice between a feared and hated criminal, named Barabbas, and this Jesus, a healer and teacher of righteousness. The people chose to have Barabbas freed. Jesus was then beaten, spat upon, mocked, crowned with thorns.

Crucifixion was not a mode of punishment of the Jewish people. The Maccabean King, Jannaeus, did use it once to kill over 800 in Jerusalem once. Even the Romans did not use crucifixion until the time of Caesar. During the last siege of Jerusalem 68 to 100 crosses a day were utilized for crucifixions. The soldiers began to amuse themselves with variations of the crucifixions. Crucifixion was of Phoenician origin, and Rome had later adopted it. The punishment was reserved for only those crimes of idolatry and blasphemy.

There were three kinds of crosses used. The Andrew’s cross was a large X, the crux commission was a T, and the Latin cross which was a t. Most believe it was the last one, for a sign was posted above the head, and this is only possible with the third one.

The location of the crucifixion was called ‘Golgotha’, which means ‘the place of the skull.’ Some think that ‘skulls’ littered the area, and therefore it was called that name. Yet, it was illegal to allow skulls to lay around, so it is likely due to the shape of the hill that the place was called ‘golgotha’. The site is located two to three minutes from the roadway, and it has a high, rounded, skull-like rocky plateau, with a sudden depression beneath, as though the jaws of a skull had opened.

 

The results of Simon of Cyrene bearing the cross were that Simon himself was saved; Alexander and Rufus, his sons, were saved; the church at Rome was blessed with their testimonies; Rufus became a leader in the church at Rome; many in the household of Nero were saved (including the wife of Nero); and the story has been in the Bible for countless more to be blessed by it.

Our cross bearing will lead to souls being saved too, if we do it as we are called to do. Jesus had a purpose in His carrying of the cross, and He has a purpose in telling us to do the same. The first one to bear the cross of Jesus, was this Simon of Cyrene. He bore it, and his family became part of the early church. Many have been blessed by his story, and by the following events due to his carrying of the cross. The wounds of the cross we bear, are great. So are the benefits of carrying this cross.

 

Jesus arrived at Golgotha around 9 a.m. First, the upright of the cross was planted into the ground. It was not high, but the victim’s feet were only a foot or two off the ground. The lips could be moistened with a sponge attached to a short stalk of a hyssop. The transverse part of the cross was placed on the ground, and the victim was laid upon it. The arms would be bound, then ropes were used to draw up the victim to the upright piece.

In the case of Jesus, his hands and feet were also nailed to the wood.

Women in Jerusalem collected money to pay for strong wine with myrrh in it, to deaden the pain. Jesus refused this.

Two others were crucified on this day. One was to the right of Jesus, the other was to His left. There was a sign at the top of the cross of the Lord Jesus, written in Latin, in Greek, and in Aramaic, stating that this was ‘Jesus, the King of the Jews. This was meant by Pilate to be a mocking of those who had pressed him to crucify this man he had deemed innocent of any real crime.

Before the nailing, the soldiers gambled over the garment of Jesus.

Isaiah 53:5-8 (KJV)

5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? for He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken.

Jesus was oppressed, afflicted, betrayed by a friend, led as a Lamb to slaughter, falsely accused, forsaken by all. The lives of we who today bear the cross that Jesus gave us leave us ‘wounded’, ‘bruised’, ‘oppressed’, ‘afflicted’, ‘stricken’, and also feeling like a ‘lamb’ brought to slaughter. These afflictions are real and at times, the pain is felt deep through our souls.

The supreme religious council had plotted and planned His death. An insulting price of a slave was paid to a betraying friend to secure the arrest of Jesus. A few days before, all of His disciples had declared to ‘never forsake’ nor betray Him. The darkest hours of His earthly life had come, and crowds had cried out, ‘crucify Him’, though’ He had never done any of them harm.

The words of others, crying out, to or about us, hurt us deeply. Jesus felt the pain of unkind, unloving words. We too, bearing this cross He gave for us, feel the hurt of cutting words.

 

Yes, Jesus bore a cross for us, paid that great price for us. Simon the Cyrenian carried it for a time, but it was Jesus Who died upon it for us. We need to bear a cross also, as we were instructed to ‘take up our cross and follow Him.’

Galatians 6:14 (KJV)

14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

It is by this wondrous work of the Lord, done on that cross, that we crucify the world unto ourselves, and crucify ourselves to this wicked world. We have a ministry of crucifixion, that depends totally on the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. His work makes our work possible.

Taking up the cross of Jesus and glorying in it, and in what the cross has done for us, creates two more crucifixions. If you truly glory in the cross of Jesus, you will crucify the world and its sin to you, and you will crucify yourself and your cravings and desires for the world. We need to make the world ‘dead’ to us, and make ourselves dead to our own desires to be like the world.

In place of those, we glory in the cross of Jesus. He bore that cross, and then was placed upon it, and it bore Him. He laid down His life, shed His blood, brought victory to us, gave us the right to a resurrection too, by what He did for us on the cross..

With our cross, that we each bear, we need to realize too that there is no miracle, unless we have a problem. There are no victories, unless we enter the battle. There is no resurrection, without cross bearing.

The early church often portrayed Jesus as a Shepherd, often holding a cross instead of a crook. Soon, early depictions of Jesus showed the cross with a Lamb upon it. Jesus is the Lamb of God, Who bore a cross for us, taking our place as the Sacrifice of God, paying the price for our sins.


THE OFFENSE OF THE CROSS

Luke 9:23-26

"And He said to them all: If any man will come after Me, let Him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whomsoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it."

Galatians 5:11

"Then is the offense of the cross preached."

The offense of the cross has never ceased. To suppose that it would - is absurdity. The religion of Jesus is the most peaceful, mild, benevolent, and yet history has shown it to be the most attacked and hated. The sinners are offended by the cross. The times of the early church were well-acquainted with the cross. The worst of sinners were put upon crosses and were made to die the most humiliating deaths upon crosses. To be told that the Savior of the world, the Son of God, the Messiah, was put in such a humiliating place for our sins was repugnant to those of that day. It offended them.

Mankind has never liked to admit that he has sinned.

Romans 3:23

"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

Mankind deserves death, but they are unwilling to admit it.

Romans 6:23

"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life."

Mankind is too proud, and wants to cover sin, and wants to call their sins to be mistakes. The cross humbles mankind. To defend against the humbling effect of the cross, mankind takes offense, and is angered by the cross. They consider it to be foolishness.

I Corinthians 1:18-24

"preaching of the cross is foolishness to them that perish."

People of the early church period wanted to think they could save themselves. People today think likewise. Government cannot save your soul. The United Nations cannot save your soul. No charity can save your soul. Turning over good leaves cannot save your soul.

Sinners of the early church period protested the religion of the cross, and wanted to proclaim that they could be "all right" if they did their best. Any who believe otherwise, are persecuted. Believers are called "old fashioned", "fanatics". Believers in the cross are criticized, called 'weak minded'.

I John 3:13

"Marvel not if the world hate you."

Many in Christianity today have also been offended by the cross. Many have done away with songs and sermons on the blood, and on the cross. They reject doctrines on Christ's death and sacrifice for us. They do not want the cross, for they do not want to admit there is a real hell, or sin that could send them there. So many churches preach a bloodless, cross-less gospel. They substitute "social change", "riot", and "marches".

Those in the early church soon began to wear small crosses on a chain or ring about the neck. They loved the cross, they valued what it meant. They wanted to wear such a symbol. Yet, the Lord wants to have us to do so much more than wear just a symbol. The Lord has to us to "take up a cross, and follow Him."

Though the world hated the symbol, though the whole idea of a Savior, a Messiah Who would die such a horrible death was repugnant to mankind, still the saints of the early church proudly wore a small cross around their neck. It meant reproach in greater measure, for it identified them to the world as a believer in the Jesus Who died upon an old wooden cross as a horrible criminal would.

In the Psalm quoted by Jesus while He hung upon the cross, we see how He was feeling at that time.

Psalms 22:6

"But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of people."

We all must bear a cross for our Lord. This will involve suffering, agony, pain, sorrow, etc.

Psalms 31:11,13

"I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbors, and a fear to mine acquaintance; they that did see me without fled from me. ...For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side; while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life."

Because of the cross, because of the life we must live for the Lord, and because of the message we must proclaim to this world, we find a cross that is difficult to bear. Our friends will reproach us, our friends will even lie against us, misunderstand what others tell them about us, will believe every lie told about us. They will take counsel against us, plot against us.

Psalms 41:5

"Mine enemies speak evil against me, When shall he die, and his name perish?"

Despite all of the aforementioned, this cross that we are to bear, following our Lord to some personal calvary, is not as heavy as some would pretend.

Matthew 11:30

"My yoke is easy (good), and My burden is light..."

Jesus said that the Pharisees "bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders." (Matthew 23:4). Yet, our Lord asks us to bear a "styrofoam cross". Some of today's congregations are like the Pharisees, and want a religion that is heavy with burdens. Many congregations want Christianity to be hard and troublesome. The early church battled the same tendency. They wanted to make the burden carried by those in the church to be heavier than planned by the Lord.

Acts 15:10

"Why tempt ye God to put a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?"

Some in the early church wanted to make the burdens carried to be heavy. Jesus came to bear our burdens, and told us to do what He did. Therefore, we should be trying to lighten the burdens of others, not adding to the burdens. Some add rules, regulations, laws, and heavy weights to the faith. These are not the ‘cross’ we are to be carrying, and if we add all those to the ‘cross’ we are bearing far heavier a cross than Jesus ever intended.

Matthew 11:28

"Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden."

We are told to "learn of" Jesus. The Lord Jesus is called "Rabbi"(teacher) 80 times in Scriptures. He is a great Teacher. Jesus can teach us much. He tried to teach us how to carry a cross, but to carry a styrofoam cross.

Jesus said:

John 14:1

"Let not your heart be troubled!"

The cross should not make us be troubled. The same burdens carried by some saints are carried lightly, as others carry those burdens as though they are so very heavy.

Notice how willingly Paul carried his cross.

I Corinthians 4:12-13

"And labour, working with our own hands; being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat; we are made as the offscouring of all things unto this day."

The prophets of the Old Testament were mistreated, lied about, abused, and even slain for their message and choice of God's ways over the way their friends wanted them to go.

James 5:6,10

"Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. ...Take my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering, affliction, and of patience."

The reason some can carry the cross so lightly is the same as that of a miser carrying a bag of heavy gold coins. He seems to bear the load lightly, for he values the heavy weight. A person who is lifting shovel after shovel of dirt and rocks as he digs up a treasure, does such with joy and anxiousness. The weight did not make him avoid the heavy work. It is the idea of the value of weight that makes the difference.

Paul said: "I glory in mine infirmities.". He had learned the value of the burdens that he carried. As hard as it is to realize, we need to comprehend that the Lord's "yoke is good". There is good in the burden of the cross that we bear.

II Corinthians 4:8

"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down but not destroyed."

Moses had to choose to bear the cross of shame and reproach for God. He had to choose that life over a life of riches, ruling Egypt, and power. It could have been a difficult decision, but Moses made the right decision.

Hebrews 11:25-26

Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of reward."

The Lord wants us to bear a cross.

Luke 9:23-26

"And He said to them all: If any man will come after Me, let Him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whomsoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it."

After we have borne a burden, and the Lord has delivered us through it, we can usually see the good that came from it. But the Lord wants us to realize as we are still bearing the burden, that it is good. Faith can move mountains, and faith can make our cross, our yoke, and our burdens be lightly borne.

One key to the realization of such is to learn to submit willingly to the cross. Some will struggle against it, and fight to not carry it. But if we willingly submit to the cross that we bear, we will find that it is only a styrofoam cross. It may look heavy, and burdensome, but our faith upholds the heaviest burden lightly.

The happy ending may be years away, the suffering may still be counted good, because we know, in faith, that God will make all things "work together for good." Faith will still work in the dark, and when we can in the natural see no way for things to work out.

II Timothy 1:12

"For the which cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."

The world tells us that "It will be all right soon!" when things are really tough. Yet, a Christian can say "It is all right now! We can say, by faith, that we "take pleasure in our infirmities."

Everyone has some kind of burdens, but only the Christian has "good" burdens.

Romans 8:28

"All things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose."

 

I Peter 3:14

"But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye; and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled."

I Peter 4:14

"If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified."

Meekness is an unnoticed virtue. It is so quiet that we do not find others praising us for it. Christ bore His burdens so lightly, and happily, that the disciples kept thinking that they were going to Jerusalem to install Him as King and Messiah, but He was on His way to the crucifixion.

Today, while many are on their way to victories, you would think they were on their way to a crucifixion. They fear and dread, complain and scorn the littlest trials. They do not bear the burden lightly, but murmur against God and the burdens.

Some people want others to notice every burden they carry. They want to talk of every trial, every financial crisis, every persecution. They have a "Pity-Me! Complex".

Meekness is not an unnoticed virtue by God. If we willingly accept the cross, bear it with pride for our Lord, and do not struggle, complain, or sit in exasperation at the crosses we bear, the Lord is well pleased.

II Timothy 1:8

"Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me, His prisoner; but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God."

Jesus rose from the grave, and showed victory over even death. If He can do that, we can be assured of our own resurrection if we abide in Him. Therefore, what threat, what abuse, what persecution, and what intimidation can hurt us??? We will be ultimate victors through Jesus, and need not fear. We can smile for the Lord will deliver us.

The wounds of the cross are precious wounds, and the healing is not just assured, it is the scars and wounds themselves. When Jesus returned from paradise, in a new immortal body, He still kept the wounds, in His hands and side, they were there to show to Thomas, to demonstrate to any doubters. He did not get a new body that was void of any evidence of the ‘cross’ that He endured. We may be surprised that the wounds of the cross down here, will be our glory on our new bodies.


__________________
murjahel
John
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.