• New Hope Church

2021_10_13 Insight Post- Rusty Coram

This week's reading- Luke 23-24

It is very easy to only see the “here and now” and forget that God always has a bigger picture (and plan) in mind. A perfect example of this is found when Jesus was being marched outside of Jerusalem to His execution. Since it was Passover, there was a huge influx of people in town from all over Israel, and surrounding nations, who had come to celebrate. One of the visitors was forced into the march by the Roman soldiers who were in charge of getting Jesus to the place of the crucifixion:

“As they led Jesus away, a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, happened to be coming in from the countryside. The soldiers seized him and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.”

Luke 23:26 (NLT)

It would be easy to imagine that Simon was both afraid, and angry, at the forced service. He had come to celebrate a holiday, not help a convicted criminal, or do the bidding of the occupying forces of Rome. In Jesus' weakened state, the crossbeam had become too heavy for Him, and that is why the soldier ordered Simon to help carry it. We don’t know specifically what interaction Simon had with Jesus as he helped carry the cross, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to believe that Jesus helped Simon see his need for what God offered, far beyond religious ritual. Once they arrived at the site for the execution Simon dropped off the beam. Jesus was then attached to it and hung up for everyone to see, and then later that day to die. We don’t know if Simon stayed to watch or not, but we do get some insight about the impact the experience had on him.

In Mark’s biography we read about the same incident, “A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.)” Mark 15:21 (NLT)

Mark adds the statement about Simon’s sons, so the readers will have context. Mark was writing to the believers in Rome where Simon’s boys were well known. In fact, Rufus, and Simon’s wife, are mentioned later in Paul’s letter to Rome, “Greet Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and also, his dear mother, who has been a mother to me.” Romans 16:13 (NLT)

I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to believe that Simon’s unplanned encounter with Jesus that day changed the trajectory of his life. It is very possible that it led him to become a follower, which led to his family also accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord. We seldom recognize the potential significance of things that happen to us in the moment – especially the problems, interruptions, inconveniences and difficulties. But be certain about this: God always has a bigger plan in mind!

Rusty Coram

Senior Pastor