The Suffering of Christ

By Terry Wardle

February 19, 2012

Simon of Cyrene is an important part of the passion story of our Lord. Origen, one of the church fathers, commented that on the day Simon carried the cross of Christ, he was carrying it for us all. And I might add, he was teaching us something central the call to follow Christ. There will be crosses to bear, just like Jesus said and like he did. And somehow, bearing these crosses joins us into the suffering of Christ and the redemption of this world.
Simon was, as his name indicates, from Cyrene. He was a Jew of the Diaspora, and most likely had made the journey into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, as was the dream of most Israelites of that time. It was quite possible that this was a trip of a lifetime for him. His friends and family may have even helped him make this journey, providing money for the trip, maybe a new set of clothes, and sent him off with great hopes. It would not be a stretch to suggest that they wanted him to return with wonderful stories of what it was like to be there, in Jerusalem, and celebrate this most sacred event in the life of every Jew.
But on the way, Simon of Cyrene was put upon by the Romans. In an instant he went from a distant, unknown observer, to a central figure in the crucifixion of our Lord. He carried the cross for Jesus. In so many ways he had nothing to do with what was happening around him. He knew neither Jesus, nor his family, his friends, nor his message. Yet, Simon was yanked from the crowd, humiliated publically, clothes covered with dirt, sweat, and blood, commanded to carry the sign of death and curse along the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering.
“Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my body what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions.” (Colossians 1:24)

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