A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. (Mk. 15:21, NIV)
As Christ-followers, we are called to take up our crosses. Sometimes this is a voluntary act that we do in love for Jesus and identification with Him. Other times, however, crosses are forced upon us. Put yourself in Simon’s place for a minute. You’re minding your own business when suddenly soldiers order you to carry the cross for a Man who looks nearly dead already. You have no choice—they have swords and the authority of Rome behind them—so you do as you’re told.
The cross is rough and heavy, and it is already bloodied by the condemned Man’s blood. You feel shame as the crowd looks on— for all they know, you are the criminal facing execution.
Now imagine that this Man, whom you learn is named Jesus, looks into your eyes. What does He convey to you with that gaze? Perhaps He leans on you for support. Maybe He even says something to you. What might He say? Try to imagine the strange intimacy you might feel as you painfully make your way up the Via Dolorosa with Jesus. What does it mean to you to realize that for reasons only God knows, you were singled out to help Jesus carry His cross to Calvary?
Is there a cross that has been forced upon you? Something painful in your life that you must carry, something you never would have volunteered for? Think about Jesus walking alongside you as He did Simon of Cyrene. How does He look at you? What does He say to you? How might experiencing “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10, NIV) help you as you participate in this unchosen suffering? Talk to Jesus about whatever feelings and thoughts this meditation stirs in you. Thank Him for sharing the suffering with you—and ask Him to help you experience the comfort of His presence.