Listen:  117.2

The account of Simon of Cyrene is very brief, but is very important.  As the Lord began his trek to Calvary, it seems that He was carrying His own cross as we read in John 19:17, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha.”  It was customary for those sentenced to death to carry their own crosses outside of the gates of the city to be crucified.  For some reason, along the way, Simon was made to carry the Lord’s cross for Him.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us of Simon.  Let’s read Matthew 27:31-32, “And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.”  We can properly surmise that, because of the terrible beatings the Roman soldiers had done to the Lord, He was too weak to carry His cross any longer, so Simon was made to carry it the rest of the way to the hill called Golgotha.

Let’s look at a couple of prophetic portions in the book of Isaiah that tell of the Lord’s brutal beatings.  Isaiah 50:6 says, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”  Then, we read in Isaiah 52:14, “As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.”  These, and other verses, give us an insight to the terrible, terrible beatings the Lord endured before going to the cross.  We can easily see how that He might not be able to carry the weight of His cross to Golgotha.

The scriptures tell us three things about the man who carried the Lord’s cross.  His name was Simon.  He was from Cyrene, a city in modern day Libya, in northern Africa, and he had two sons as we read in Mark 15:21, “And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.”  Only Mark mentions the names of Simon’s sons.

It’s probable that these two men were well known as believers among the Lord’s people when Mark wrote his book, so their names were given.  It’s quite possible that witnessing the crucifixion of the Lord, and seeing their own father carry his cross, had a great impact on these two men.  There are several people named Alexander in the later books of the Bible.  It’s really impossible to say which one of these, if any, was the son of Simon.  Many believe, though, that Rufus was mentioned by the Apostle Paul in Romans 16:13 where he said, “Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.”  What precious words from the apostle.  Besides Rufus, Paul highly commends Rufus’ mother as his own mother.  We can imagine the hospitality that Paul must have received in the home of Rufus’ mother, so much so that Paul loved her as his own mother.  Such is the testimony of the Godly Christian home.  While we never read of Simon after he carried the Lord’s cross, we do get some insight as to the testimony of his home.  In all likelihood, Simon had died before Paul mentioned Rufus in his letter, but his legacy seems to be continued in the lives of his wife and sons.  (117.2)