Mark 15:21: “Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross.”

November 9th, 2018 by Pastor Ed in devotional

After Jesus was beaten and scourged, He was too weak to carry His cross, so the Roman guards randomly recruited a man named Simon out of the watching crowd. Simon was from a Jewish colony in Cyrene, Libya, which is in North Africa. We learn from Acts 6:9 and 13:1, that the Cyrenian Jews had a synagogue in Jerusalem. Mark adds that he was “the father of Alexander and Rufus,” which suggests that his children where well known to the church by the time the Gospel of Mark was written.

Simon played a fascinating role here because he was a Jewish pilgrim, coming to Jerusalem from 1000 miles away. Like other pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem at that time, he was there to confess his sins, ask God for forgiveness, and vow to return another year. But he found so much more. The real pilgrimage was not to Jerusalem but to Calvary. Simon became a Messianic pilgrim as he carried the cross of the Lamb of God, and witnessed the sacrifice and shedding not of the imperfect blood of a sacrificial animal, but the perfect blood of the once-and-for-all sacrificial Savior. Simon began as a passerby and reluctant eyewitness, but, by God’s grace and design, he became a participant and ultimately a believer.

There is another true story of an eyewitness who became a believer. British reporter Henry Morton Stanley was sent to Africa by his newspaper editor to find the missing Scottish, medical missionary, David Livingstone. Stanley was the one who famously said, when he finally found him: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” The life and witness of Livingstone changed Stanley’s life; he said:

In 1871 I went to Africa as prejudiced as the biggest atheist in London. But there came for me a long time for reflection. I was out there, away from a worldly world. I saw a solitary old man there, and asked, “Why on earth does he stop here? Is he cracked, or what? What is it that inspires him?” For months after we met I found myself listening to him, wondering at him, as he carried out all that was said in the Bible: “Leave all that ye have and follow me.” But little by little his sympathy became contagious. Seeing his piety, his gentleness, his zeal, his earnestness, and how quietly he did his duty, I was converted by him, though he had not tried to do it.1

“LORD, make our lives today a clear enough witness that someone might see You in us and find salvation.”

1W. Graham Scroggie, Is the Bible the Word of God (Philadelphia: The Sunday School Times Company, 1922), p. 92.