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A virtual "nobody" lightens Jesus' burden.

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country and laid on him the cross to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed Him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for Him.  Luke 23.26 and following. . .

We follow Jesus on the road to the crucifixion . . .

I was trying to devise something encouraging out of this very heavy passage, realizing how many of us need a shot of sunshine in our days, but the only sunshine that can be derived from where we are in the Passion of Jesus Christ, is knowing how the story ends! Instead we are looking at the painful lot of our Lord, just before his death. I did, however, find a different set of lenses with which to view Jesus' agonizing walk to Golgotha. Apparently, someone was paying close attention to one Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus carry the cross on his wounded back . . . take a look:

Sadness enveloped Simon. Jesus stood off to the side with bowed head praying silently to his Father. They had reached Calvary.

Just a short while before, the Roman soldiers picked Simon out of the crowd, shouting to him, "Pick up that cross! Now!"  His friend told him not to get involved.  However, when Simon looked at Jesus, he felt tremendous, though unexplainable love and sorrow for him. He could see Jesus' indescribable pain as blood dripped profusely all over his torn flesh.  As their eyes met, Simon saw love radiate from Jesus' eyes such as he had never seen before.

Simon reached down and picked up the cross. He thought to himself, ‘what wood was used to make this cross?  It is unbelievably heavy!’  Simon straightened up and with a tremendous sigh, heaved the cross onto his shoulder.  He had heard about this teacher from Nazareth. People followed him everywhere - from town to town and village to village. The soldiers grabbed Jesus and pushed him forward as the blood dripped from the crown of thorns on his sacred head.  His breathing was labored; the pain from the scourging caused unbearable torment throughout his body.

Jesus turned and walked toward the hill where his crucifixion would take place; Simon walked behind him. Three times he witnessed Jesus fall and each time he thought this pure and gentle man would never get up. Simon wondered, "Where does he get his energy? Why does he keep going? Why doesn't he give up right here?"  

As they walked the dirty, dusty road, Simon would never forget the moment when Jesus met his mother, Mary. He could see the pain in Mary's eyes. The look that passed between mother and Son was full of love and understanding. Mary wiped away some of the blood from Jesus' cheek before gently giving him a kiss on the forehead. He looked at her with tenderness and slowly moved on.

As Simon continued following Jesus, he noticed curious onlookers on the edge of the crowd. For the most part, however, overwhelming grief surrounded them on both sides of the narrow street. Both men and women from nearby villages wept uncontrollably.

When they reached the top of Calvary, Simon laid the cross on the ground and sadly looked at Jesus. Tears flowed down his cheeks. "Thank you, Simon," Jesus said. "Remember, I will be with you always.  One day, I will lead you to my Father's kingdom."  Then Jesus turned toward the guards. Simon drifted to the back of the crowd that had gathered around the cross.  His grief was almost unbearable as he watched the cruelty with which the guards threw Jesus down onto the cross. The cries of the women around him tore at his heart.  He fell to his knees, buried his head in his hands and prayed. Jesus had done nothing wrong. Why were they crucifying Him?

We all face hardships and difficulties; at times, the trials we endure become too much for us to handle alone. Like Simon, we must help one another carry our crosses. We must look upon one another with love, understanding and acceptance. Jesus walks our journey of life beside us - every step of the way. Let us follow His beautiful example of love.*  Three crosses raised up on Golgotha--"The Skull"--Jesus between two criminals. Does it grip you, does it break your heart to visualize him there? If it doesn't, you're in trouble. . .

He cried out, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments, (a fulfillment of the prophecy of Psalm 22.18). And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, 'He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One! The soldiers also, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!' There was also an inscription over him, 'This is the King of the Jews.'

One of the criminals, who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And He said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

Until the end, they scoffed; until the end, He loved. . .                                       

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love~    Christine

*Carolyn Kenney

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