And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.25 And it was the third hour when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him. – Mark 15:21-32
Maybe you’ve seen the man on the side of the highway. In the middle of nowhere. Carrying a cross with wheels on the bottom. Miles to go in either direction. What is he up to? I’ve called him misguided. I’ve presumed him to be a bit out of touch, perhaps even mentally disturbed. There is certainly nothing outwardly or obviously productive in this action. It seems quite futile to me.
Mike Breen, of 3DM fame did this in his village in England. He felt compelled to carry a cross around the village where he lived. At all hours of the night. For no good reason – other than he believed God had told him to do it. Large. Rough wood. Wheels or not, I do not know. I only know he told us his story. You can read about it here. Bottom line, his act of carrying the cross around the village led to some remarkable conversations and opportunities for God to touch people’s lives. It was the beginning of a significant discipleship movement.
I guess I need to repent of my thoughts about the man I saw on the side of the highway dragging around his cross. When it comes to Simon of Cyrene, however, I have only respect for him. Little more is said of him than that he was pressed into service and that he carried Jesus’ cross the last distance to Golgotha. There they crucified Jesus. There everyone gets into the act of deriding, mocking, reviling, and shaming Jesus. There Jesus will die.
Jesus says that if anyone would follow him, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily. I’m not certain that means that I am to carry a cross around town. But I am certain that whenever I must forgive a deep hurt, go the extra mile in love for a sister or brother in Christ, or even suffer unjustly for the sake of Christ, that is the cross he has called for me to bear.