19th April 2014

‘But I was Going the Other Way’

“As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.”
Luke 23:26 (NIV)

Why did the soldiers pick on Simon? Maybe they thought they risked a riot if they grabbed a local from the crowd that lined the road.  Carrying the contaminated cross of a battered and bleeding condemned man would have made any Jew who was hoping to keep the Passover that day unclean. However Simon was from North Africa and perhaps the escort thought he might not kick up such a fuss, and even if he did object, the people would not necessarily side with him. If Simon was also making his way into Jerusalem for the Passover, once the soldiers fingered him for cross-duty, he would have been unable to take the Passover. And if he had journeyed in from Cyrene, the object of all his planning and the month or more of wearisome, dangerous travelling was over as he was forced to turn back to carry a convicted man’s cross.

Simon’s home town is now just an archaeological site in Libya but it was started as a Greek colony, then it became Egyptian territory, and eventually a Roman province. It did have a sizeable Jewish community but it’s also possible that Simon was picked out of the crowd because he was African.  Whatever his nationality, Jewish, mixed race or gentile convert– and we are not told – he was forced to say goodbye to his own plans that day and turn round and go in the opposite direction with Jesus, taking a part in his life for the first time that morning.

But it was the very blood that would have rendered Simon unclean if he was headed for the Passover that was going to cleanse him of all sin, not just for a few hours or days, but for eternity. For “the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.” (Hebrews 9:14 MSG)

He’s our Everyman, standing for all of us who turn around, away from the way we were headed, to participate in the life of Jesus. Our life may not bring what we ever had imagined or planned, but as Simon’s hands and robes were stained by the blood of Jesus, so our contaminated lives are touched and cleansed as we clutch the reddened bloodied cross of Christ, and our garments are made clean and righteous-white.

Lamb of God, cleansed by your spilt blood, may we turn and follow behind your cross wherever you take us.

Study by Hilary Buck


hilarybuck1About the Author:
Hilary Buck attends Grace Communion in Lewes.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Lewes
The Priory School
Mountfield Road

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: hilarybucksbox@mypostoffice.co.uk

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