Carrying the Cross
Jesus falls down in the road as he carries his cross to the place where he will be executed. He is helped by a stranger, press-ganged into action by a Roman soldier.
To read or hear this story from Simon see below
My name is Simon. My wife, our sons and I live in the small Roman province of Cyrene situated on the northern coast of Africa. Every year I travel to Jerusalem for the Passover.
From the moment I arrived in the city, I was noticed how crowded the place was. As I walked through the streets, people were standing shoulder to shoulder. I kept hearing people saying, “Jesus is being crucified!”
As I watched, a group of Roman soldiers cleared a path through the crowd. They were leading three men, each of whom carried a heavy wooden cross on their shoulders, led to the hill I had passed on my way into the city – the hill they call “the place of the skull.”
One of the men stumbled and fell under the weight of his cross. He was bleeding from deep wounds all over his body. His face was bruised and cut beyond recognition. Someone had pressed a crown of thorns deep into his skull. He obviously had been abused in the most brutal way. I couldn’t imagine what anyone could have done to earn that kind of punishment.
Without warning a Roman soldier reached out and pulled me into the path of the man. He brought his face right up to mine and shouted at me, “You… carry his cross!” My first reaction was to let my fist fly across this soldier’s chin, but I thought better of it. As I hesitated he again shouted at me, “Pick up his cross!”
I reached down and lifted the weight off the man lying in front of me and placed it across my shoulders. It was so heavy and awkward to carry, and I couldn’t imagine how this man had been able to carry so far with the injuries he had sustained. The man looked up at me through his mutilated face. At that moment, I had the strangest feeling. I was no longer carrying the cross because of the soldier’s threats. I was carrying the cross to ease the burden of this man.
As we continued along the path made by the soldiers, I began to hear shouts from the crowd. Some were shouting, “Crucify him!” Some sneered, “If You are the Son of God, where are Your angels to help you!” But most were crying out in broken-hearted disbelief, “Jesus!”
When we arrived at the place of execution, the soldiers shouted at me to put down the cross. Then the soldier who had pulled me from the crowd shoved me away and told me I was free to go.
Simon initially carried Jesus’ cross because he was in fear of the Roman solider. What happened to change his motives?
Have you ever helped someone through a very difficult time in their life, or been helped at a difficult time in your own life? How did it make you feel?