2021_06_21 Insight Post- Kim Feld
This week's reading- Mark 15
In this week’s reading of Mark 15, two characters stood out to me. The first is Simon. Verse 21 says: “A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.” Cyrene was a port city in north Africa; Simon may have been in town for the Passover celebration, or he may have just been passing through, but either way, the text does not read as if Simon was a follower of Jesus. He just happened to be in the crowd and the soldiers picked him to carry Jesus’ cross. It appears that He had been so badly beaten that He was unable to carry it on His own. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention Simon. We don’t get any other information about Simon from Mark, but he does mention the names of his sons Alexander and Rufus as if the readers would be familiar with this family. If you take a look at Romans 16:13, you know why.
“Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.” Romans 16:13 (NIV).
Again, I want more details, but it appears as though perhaps this chance encounter for Simon resulted in a life change for him and his family. If that’s the case, what did Simon see in Jesus as he carried his cross? Did they have a conversation, or did Simon ask questions of those around him?
The other character that stands out to me is Joseph of Arimathea.
42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid. Mark 15:42-47 (NIV).
Matthew’s biography describes Joseph as a rich man who had become a disciple of Jesus. Luke’s biography says that Joseph had not consented to the Council’s decision and action to crucify Jesus. Finally, John’s biography states that Joseph was a secret follower and also mentioned that Nicodemus was with Joseph, helping him with Jesus’ body. All four biographies record Joseph’s act of bravery in ensuring that Jesus would have a proper burial.
N. T. Wright, in his book Mark for Everyone, points out that this was a risky endeavor for Joseph as he was showing sympathy for someone who had just been crucified for sedition. However, when we remember back to Peter’s fearful denials of even being associated with Jesus, Joseph’s act of compassion seems even more courageous.
Reading about these two men makes me wonder how many others were impacted by Jesus through chance encounters or His public teaching? Of course, one day, we will see the full impact but it makes me wonder what people walk away with after a brief encounter with me or what story will others tell about me?
Executive Director of Education and Outreach