A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. Mark 15, verses 21.
How often are you made to do something you really don’t want to do?
Consider Simon from Cyrene. He’s not native to Jerusalem; he’s visiting there. One Friday morning, when the city is full, he is caught on a street that would come to be known as the Via Dolorosa. Perhaps he’s minding his business; perhaps he’s there with family. We don’t particularly know why he was there; we really don’t know much about him other than that he was from Cyrene, which is in northern Africa. All we know is that he was Shanghai’d into helping Jesus walk to His death.
Back to here and now. If I haven’t said it before, I don’t like batting cleanup. If you’re not a baseball fan, to bat cleanup is to be the fourth hitter in a lineup. Three guys get on base, so the manager sends a hitter to bat who can hit them home. In a way it’s an honor; in another way it’s a burden.
At work, I have a penchant for working in positions where, very often, my role is to finish the work done by others. To be honest, it aggravates me. I don’t like having to come in part way through an effort and be stuck with someone else’s choices. Yet the irony of this is that batting cleanup is my specialty. I’ve developed skills, abilities, and intuition that allow me to apply myself in going in and bringing order to chaos, and successful completion to endangered crisis. This is just a niche in which I’ve carved out experience.
Do you think Simon of Cyrene probably had experience carrying crosses? I’m betting not. But he was forced into a situation where he had to bat cleanup. He probably didn’t go to Jerusalem that Friday morning thinking “I’m gonna help a man die today” but that’s the way it turned out. The Romans saw that Jesus was exhausted, that He couldn’t walk another step while carrying that heavy cross. The cross was probably between 100 and 200 lbs, and remember that Jesus had been awake since Thursday morning and had spent the last few hours being viciously tortured. He was in agony, made even more agonizing knowing that the pain was only beginning. No Roman soldier would be forced to carry that cross, so they pulled Simon out of the crowd and forced him at sword-point to help the King of the Jews.
Sort of makes my complaining about work seem pretty trivial, doesn’t it. I mean, if my cross to bear is the ability to swoop in, help someone be successful, and get paid handsomely for it, tell me where is there any cross to bear?
You know the answer. No, as always, this isn’t a guilt trip for you. It’s simply to help you ask yourself: how often are you asked to do things you don’t want to do? Then, how much of a burden are they? Are they pulled-out-of-a-crowd-and-forced-to-carry-a-cross-for-a-convicted-innocent-felon burdensome? Are they the burdens of Jesus? You and I aren’t God and can’t be God, but we can change our lives to live as He asks us. What are you prepared to do?
Lord, take my burdens. Forgive me my shallowness and my sins, and help me to change to better live as You would ask me to.
Read Mark 15, verses 16-47.