Let’s begin by reading Matthew 27:31-32, “And after that they had mocked him (Jesus), 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’re told that at the first, Jesus bore His own cross. John 19:17 says, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha.” We can only assume that because of the tremendous beatings that the Lord endured, that He was unable to carry the weight of His cross the entire way to Golgotha, so they compelled Simon to carry it for Him. It was prophesied of the Lord 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.” He had been beaten so badly that He did not even look like a man anymore.

Mark 15:21 tells us a little more about Simon. That says, “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.” Simon’s sons became well known by those in the early church. Alexander is mentioned in Acts 19:33 and Rufus is mentioned in Romans 16:13. Perhaps it was being present during the crucifixion of Christ that caused them to put their trust in Him. It was no accident that Simon came out of the country just when he did. If he had arrived five minutes earlier, or five minutes later, he would not have been there in the right position to carry the cross for the Lord. They ‘compelled’ Simon to do this. If the Lord could not carry his cross, the Roman soldiers sure were not going to do it. Perhaps they might have compelled one of the Lord’s disciples to carry the cross, but the Lord had told them earlier in Mark 14:27, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” It seems that none of the disciples were there with Him when Christ came out of the city bearing His cross.

Luke 23:26 has this to say, “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.” Here, we learn that Simon walked behind the Lord, carrying His cross. It is probable that at this point, Simon had no idea who this man was that he was compelled to carry His cross. Let’s continue reading in Luke. Luke 23:27-31, “And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” Certainly Simon saw this incident and heard the words of the Lord Jesus. Perhaps he said as the officers of the High Priest once said of the Lord in John 7:46, “Never man spake like this man.” Whatever he saw and heard it must have had a profound effect on him and his sons. In Acts 19:33, we see that Alexander sought to defend the Apostle Paul, and in Romans 16:13 Rufus is referred to as being “chosen in the Lord.”

We are not told why Simon was chosen to do this work. It seems that it could have been for the profit of him and his sons. The name Simon means “hearkening”. This gives the thought of one who was listening. As he listened to the Lord while carrying His cross, He heard some incredible words from the Savior’s lips. Are you listening? Have you heard the voice of the Lord speaking to your heart, beckoning you to come to Him? If so, dear reader, I urge you to respond as Simon did and consider the words of the Lord in Matthew 16:24, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (242.10)