One person that intrigues me when I read about the suffering of Jesus is a person barely mentioned and yet that person had a close first hand experience of the suffering of Jesus. He was not originally from Jerusalem or even Israel for that matter. He was from a place called Cyrene. Simon was his name. All we read about him is that soldiers seized him and forced him to carry the cross of Jesus. The soldiers seized him as he was on his way in from the country.
Simon would have seen Jesus close up and witnessed how beaten up Jesus was after the terrible lashing inflicted upon him. Simon would have seen Jesus stumble and fall from the weight of the cross. Simon would have seen the crown of thorns on Jesus’s head. He would have seen the crowds shouting, some hurling insults at Jesus and some hurling insults at the soldiers.
That is all that is written about Simon, but for me, there is a story behind the account recorded in the bible. Questions arise in my mind when I think about Simon of Cyrene. Why was he coming into Jersualem? Was he coming for the Passover? Did he stay and watch the crucifixion of Jesus? Did he know about the resurrection of Jesus? Did he ever come to faith in Jesus?
I also think about the turmoil Simon would have experienced. Surely his heart would have been pounding out of fear and confusion. He was forced to do something that would have left scars emotionally and psychologically. Being seized by soldiers on what he had thought would be a peaceful stroll into the city could have left him with post-traumatic stress. I am so intrigued by Simon of Cyrene when I ponder such thoughts that I incorporated him into a fictional short story, friends-struggling-with-ptsd-meet-the-man-who-carried-the-cross-of-jesus
Then I wonder what my reaction would have been to seeing Jesus carrying his cross let alone to be forced to carry it for him. The movie The Passion of the Christ clearly depicts what the first ‘Good Friday’ could have looked like. What is my reaction to that? I leave thinking mostly about how my sin. my failures, my messing up things, are why Jesus allowed himself to be crucified. He could have stopped it with one thought. He could have called upon the angels. But he permitted himself to be killed because of his love for us. When I think about that, I do not have words to express my gratitude, my regret, remorse, and my awe over his suffering for me.