When You Are Compelled to Bear the Cross

This is part of the Good Friday narrative, the last day right before Jesus’ death.  All the things happening that day were for a purpose.  This is something we don’t think a lot about.  Simon was compelled to bear the cross, forced by the Romans.  Many thought Jesus would probably die on the way to Calvary but that’s now how it had to happen.  Simon was there in the crowd and forced to help Jesus.  Who was really helping who?

Luke 23:26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.

None of us likes to be forced to do anything.  Even as kids when we were ordered to do something by mom and dad our instinct was to say no.  Then we were compelled by them—forced—if we resisted.  The shape of this world, even down to our communities, makes it a real challenge to come to church.  Satan is doing everything in his power to compel people to stay from church, the Bible and Christianity.  We’re under pressure in this country like never before.  Other countries have felt it for years; now it’s here.  The wickedness puts us under a load we cannot handle.  There’s a strain that didn’t use to be there.  Infirmities of our body work on us too.  Remember that no matter the cross—how heavy, pressured or compelled we feel—look in front at who’s ahead with that cross.

Three were to be crucified that day.  Barabbas was a criminal yet the people chose to set him free so Jesus would be crucified in his place.  Jesus’ mission was not to die for himself.  He knew we bore a cross we couldn’t bear and faced a death and eternity in hell that we couldn’t handle.  Jesus was willing to take that cross for us.  No matter how hard your cross is be thankful you’re not under it alone.  Jesus is willing to rub your name off the cross and bear it for you.  The very thing that put a strain on Simon was held in greater part by Jesus.

Simon didn’t live in Jerusalem.  He was a foreigner from Cyrene on his way back home.  By ourselves we are strangers and foreigners to God.  Do you feel like the heaviness and uncertainties of life are too heavy?  We can’t even watch five minutes of television without being infected by sin.  What’s happening?  Did you think it wouldn’t get this bad?  We must understand that we have to go all the way as Jesus did.  He said we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him.  We can’t imagine the horror of the cross, but Jesus took it.

This is not the world we grew up in.  Everything going on puts us under a cross that gets heavier and heavier.  The effect can put a strain on our relationship with God.  Peter said for us not to think it strange when we’re tested, tempted, and tried.  When we accepted Jesus we became strangers and pilgrims of this world.  It’s not a bed of roses here but heaven will be!  We have to go on up the hill.  We live with more of a Totalitarian government than a democratic one.  We can’t bear it by ourselves.

Simon was a foreigner in the crowd.  Jesus fell under the weight of the cross.  He resisted the supernatural power he had and endured the cross as the son of man.  Only he had the will power to endure it as a man.  He fell near Simon.  Jesus didn’t ask him to take the cross.  We don’t ask for the crosses we bear.  Jesus has paused right before us today as he did Simon.  The Romans looked around and then forced Simon to get under the cross with Jesus.  Simon bore it after Jesus meaning that Simon was behind him; Jesus was in front.  This impacted Simon.  We later learn that Simon’s children were pillars in the early church.

It’s not really our cross because Jesus made it his.  Let’s not let the devil make a trophy of us:  keep on going.  Jesus didn’t bear a Styrofoam cross.  It was a large, heavy cross.  Do you feel overwhelmed?  Man couldn’t bear a cross without falling down.  Many prisoners had to virtually crawl under the weight of it to their death.  If you are wondering how you’ll make it, you can’t.  Be compelled to get under the cross but look to the one in front.  It was a rough-hewn cross and would have been hard for Simon.  Jesus is passing by us.  The world may be pushing you under but look at who’s in front of you.  Being in front, Jesus raised first and he and Simon went up the hill.  Was Simon helping Jesus or was Jesus helping him.  Jesus really needed no help but Simon did.  I believe that someway, somehow Jesus let Simon know it was all right.

You have no idea what a cross I’m under.  I know what some of you all face but I have no idea how rough and heavy your cross is BUT Jesus does!  Jesus bore it to Calvary and it should have been ours.  The command for us by Jesus is “follow me.”  Let’s bear up our cross but as we do open our eyes to see who’s under it with us.  Jesus bore it 2,000 years ago.  He’s passing here today and is leading the way.  Simon made it letting Jesus lead the way.  Let’s thank the Lord for being under our cross and leading the way.

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