SIMON, THE CYRENIAN
Roman soldiers used to command anyone on the road to help them carry their luggage. It was in this context Jesus taught, “If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles” (Mt 5:41). While Jesus was carrying the cross to Calvary, the soldiers forced Simon, a Cyrenian, to carry the cross so that they could crucify Jesus alive.
Cyrenaica was the capital of a Roman province on the north coast of Africa and Cyrene was its capital city. This city had a large population of Greek-speaking Jews. Simon, a Greek-speaking Jew, might have migrated to Palestine.
“After laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus” (Lk 23:26). Simon was literally fulfilling the teaching of Jesus: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). Simon was, in fact, carrying the cross of Jesus and following him.
Mark 15:21 presents Simon as the “father of Alexander and Rufus.” The reason for giving the names of his sons is because they must have been prominent followers of Jesus and well-known leaders of the ancient church.
Jesus wants us to share his cross in our lifetime to continue his mission in this world. Though it seemed a burden and a shame to carry the cross, Simon was fortunate to help Jesus. He and his sons became popular. It is not just cursing that passes down to generations, but blessings as well. The good works we do for Jesus and his church will have its lasting effects in our coming generations.