26 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. 27
I am Simon of Cyrene and a heartbreaking but wonderful thing happened to me on a Friday many years ago as I entered the city. There were crowds everywhere and as I neared the via Dolorosa I heard the sound of woman weeping and wailing mixed with the shouts of men.I could not see to whom or to what all this emotion was directed, so I pressed in closer to get a better view.
It was then that I saw this large wooden cross that seemed to be dragging itself down the stone covered street surrounded by Roman soldiers. I said to myself "how is it that the cross moves?" Then I saw Him, half hidden by the cross bar a bowed and bloody figure stumbling under it's burden. Blood was pooled in his every foot print as He grunted and groaned with His every step. Every part of him I could see was ripped and bruised, His flesh hung in ribbons.
As I detachedly watched, the agonizingly slow procession I was suddenly thrust into the surreal scene when I heard a voice loudly growl "YOU!! YES YOU! COME HERE AND HELP HIM CARRY HIS LAST BURDEN!" as the soldiers laughed, I hesitated and started to protest, then I thought about running but thought the better of it.
As I approached this poor soul I could feel his pain and anguish, it was weird. I sped up to avoid the lash and arrived at his side just in time as he fell into me placing all his weight and that of the cross on me. I summoned all my strength and somehow kept us both upright.
Just like that I found myself going from onlooker to the eye of the storm, surrounded by a whirlwind of emotions. As I joined in this obvious death march I was conflicted as I looked upon Priest and Pharisees and other devout men cursing this man yelling "blasphemer!! Crucify him!!" as they spit at us as I now shared in his shame. I thought to myself "my God what has he done to deserve this?"
At that point he lifted up his eyes to me and I saw tears, not tears of anger or pain but tears of compassion FOR ME!! FOR ME! OF ALL THINGS! he was concerned for me even as he was suffering in what was undoubtedly his final moments. He looked at me and never said a word but that look said it all.
He then righted himself and continued on ahead of me leading me and his cross toward Golgotha the hill where hey liked to crucify and leave them hanging to be seen by everyone as an example. He could barely carry his own weight and as we drew nearer stumbled again and again, finally I dragged Him, myself and the cross to the top of the hill.
"OK you can go on your way now!" barked the Centurion as they began to unload the hammers and the nails. They grabbed him out of my grasp and though I wanted to turn and run away I reached out to Him and asked "Who are you?" but He did not speak but again I felt his compassion as I finally turned and walked away covered in his blood. One of the soldiers cried out "YOU SHOULD BE HONORED, He CLAIMS TO BE A KING! KING OF THE JEWS!"
As I walked away I tried to wipe his blood from my person but I am glad I was unsuccessful, even though you can't see it anymore it is always there and the man whose name I did not know, three days later rose from the dead, I know Him now as Jesus the Christ my Lord and my Savior.
God bless you all, Simon of Cyrene
I KNOW IT WAS THE BLOOD! BROTHER DARRELL, A WATCHMAN