Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™ I AM Ministries
“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”
Monday, February 22, 2016
One never knows what a day will bring. Even with careful planning and scheduling, unexpected events often divert us from our intended agenda. These diversions have the appearance of randomness in their outcomes – sometimes beneficial, sometimes not. Occasionally, an imposition or burden transforms into an honor. Simon of Cyrene experienced such a transformation as he stepped away briefly from his intended business to assist our LORD Jesus Christ on the day He was crucified.
Scripture mentions the town of Cyrene only sparingly, but it became notable when Simon, by Divine appointment, intersected Christ’s crucifixion experience. Cyrene was a large city in North Africa from which Simon hailed. Having just arrived in Jerusalem, Simon was tending to business when he saw a column of people on the way to Calvary. Whereas multitudes in town for Passover witnessed this same procession, most ignored it or diverted themselves in other directions. Touched by the Holy Spirit, howver, curiosity piqued Simon’s interest. He paused to investigate the nature of this puzzling commotion. His impulsive decision resulted in one of the greatest honors bestowed upon a human being – carrying the Cross of Jesus Christ.
By the time Simon first saw Jesus, He was exhausted. After hours of praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had been arrested and marched from one weary trial to another. He had been tortured physically and mentally, flogged mercilessly, mocked by the Roman soldiers, and let down by His own disciples – Judas who betrayed Him, Peter who denied Him, and Peter, James and John who slept when Jesus had asked them to pray. When the Romans arrested Jesus, the disciples scattered like the wind.
Jesus had taken neither a morsel of food nor a sip of water since the Last Supper. Understandably, as He marched inexorably toward Calvary, He collapsed in the road under the burden of the Cross. Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, who had carried effortlessly many a heavy beam on His shoulders, now stumbled and fell to the ground in agony. The procession of death came suddenly to a halt.
Being under orders to crucify our LORD, the Roman centurion in charge faced a serious dilemma. It was obvious Jesus needed help, but the options for those who could assist Him were limited. The centurion was obligated to fulfill Pontius Pilate’s order to put Jesus to death, but he was forbidden to ask one of his own men to carry the Cross. He could not ask a Jew to carry it because this would make the Jew unclean before Passover and the Romans were forbidden to interfere with the religious practices of their subjects. In a city brimming with Jews and Romans, the centurion needed a foreigner to complete the task.
The centurion noticed Simon of Cyrene in the crowd. He grabbed Simon and forced him to carry Jesus’ Cross. The Romans knew full well this task was a reproach and an embarrassment to both victims, but orders are orders – they must comply in order to save their own necks. What they did not realize, however, was how Simon’s task was actually an enormous gift sent directly from God.
The greatest honor ever granted to a human being was when Mary conceived and gave birth to the Christ child. Arguably the next greatest honor given to a man may have been to Simon of Cyrene, who was allowed to pick up and carry the Cross of Jesus Christ the final steps to Calvary. Simon had to transport this burden only a few hundred feet, so the physical aspect of this feat did not seem at the time to be spectacular. In retrospect, it was an unexpected and history-making honor.
People often say the Cross is something we pick up voluntarily, but Scripture says Simon was compelled to carry it. Every Christian knows it is easier to pick up and carry Christ’s Cross some days than others. Even though we are compelled by our thankfulness for His sacrifice to carry it, we often shirk our duty to pick up His Cross. Instead of helping Him, we let it lie. Real Christians, however, are obedient Christians, and if we are to obey we must pick up whatever burdens Christ places in our path and be thankful for the task.
It does not seem normal to the world that to carry burdens is an honor, but this is the very thing Christ calls us to do. Our burdens will not go down in history as did the unexpected burden of Simon of Cyrene, but carrying the burdens Christ sends us is no less important. Whether anticipated or unexpected, heavy or light, remember that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us through Jesus Christ (Romans 8:18). Carrying our burdens or the burdens of others is normal for Christians and Jesus has promised we will never have to do it alone (Matthew 11:30). It is truly an honor.
In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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