Take Up the Cross of the Lord
Translated by Allan Liang
An unordinary character is presented at the start of this passage in Mark, Simon from Cyrene, the Father of Alexander and Rufus who came from the country. What made him appear unordinary was not these descriptions, rather he was called to do an unordinary task: carrying the cross on which the Lord was crucified and walking with the Lord down this path to Golgotha - to The Place of the Skull. Many believers today may rejoice for the path that we walk alongside the Lord, perhaps even celebrating jubilantly because we will be glorified with him. However, let us enter the situation given to us by the Scriptures, and again reconsider what it means to carry up the cross. The Lord Jesus first rejected the wine mixed with myrrh (23), said to have been prepared by godly women of that land specially for criminals who were about to be crucified, similar to what was written in Proverbs 31:6, perhaps to numb those who were facing death, making the pain of the bodily not too excruciating. The Lord was to personally experience the pain of physical death, and certainly did not need to be numbed. The Lord was near naked, and the casting of lots for his clothing, spoken of in Psalms 22:18 was also fulfilled. Furthermore, he was crucified on the cross that had his “crime” written, “The King of the Jews” (26), how great was the irony, the “crime” of the sinless Lord Jesus was his true identity; the blind officials and soldiers did not know this, and convicted him on the basis of an absurd charge. Even the time of his crucifixion and death were recorded, letting this scene truly manifest once more before us. On either side was a criminal, responding to the prophecy in Isaiah, “He poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). What followed was humiliation, mocking, insults, provocations, telling him to “come down from the cross” (30), and jesting, “he saved others... but he can’t save himself!” (31). The Lord was crucified and died on the cross, a Roman method of execution intended to make death as slow as possible, have pain and suffering experienced to the maximum degree, cause each breath to worsen the already unbearable pain, and have shame come not only from the cross, but even more so, from the words, insults and scoffings spoken by the mouth of sinners; this was a process that common people cannot understand, or in other words, this was an experience that sinners cannot feel. Only the people saved by him can understand what he experienced, was the height of suffering in order to give his redeemed ones the height of love, love that surpasses our imaginations - love that cost him his life. Simon was forced to carry the Lord Jesus’ cross, a task said to be considered unlucky by the people; as a foreigner (possibly coming to Jerusalem for the Passover) he had no choice but to do this, yet his name was recorded in the Bible, and his children were used as his descriptors (the father of Alexander and Rufus), becoming today, one remembered by countless believers. Biblical interpreters believe that he is the father of the coworker of Paul, Rufus, mentioned in Romans (Romans 16:13), he and his household were very likely blessed by what he had experienced on the path to Golgotha. Simon from Cyrene witnessed the Lord’s death, he believed in this humble Lord, because he was not unable to save himself, but by his death, he would save all who believed in him, so that they would not perish but have eternal life. Dear brothers and sisters, to carry up the cross of the Lord is to share in the Lord’s death, share in the Lord’s humility, share in what the Lord will accomplish and share in the resurrection, our lives have become the vessels of his grace. He lets us walk with him on a path of life through death that leads to Golgotha. We need to be reborn through him, conquer the flesh and crucify sin. Let our old cultures, traditions, beliefs, world views, outlooks on life and value systems be transformed and renewed by the Lord; Christ’s death, the death that was painful to the utmost, has become the ransom for our lives, and the love he gave, the sacrificial love that cost him his life, must live in our lives, for we have received the honor of being called followers of Christ - Christians. Please meditate and pray, Christ Jesus, in order to accomplish the redemptive work of the Father, died on the cross, why is the redemptive power of this death able to make us reborn? How are we to become the vessels of this grace and live as witnesses of the gospel? May the Lord illuminate our hearts. Soli Deo Gloria!