As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus.Luke 23:26
Throughout my years as a Trinity member I have had the opportunity to portray several biblical figures.
I have been Peter at Pentecost, the disciple Mathew in The Last Supper, Paul for Vacation Bible School and John the Baptist in the Godspell song “Prepare Ye” during Lessons & Carols.
Last year during the Lenten season’s “Glimpses of Jesus” series, I was Simon of Cyrene, one of the least known figures in the Bible. He is mentioned by name one time in Matthew and once in Luke (the above scripture).
Simon, a Jew, makes the journey from Northern Africa to Jerusalem each year for Passover and stays until Pentecost. He was standing along the route to Golgotha when Jesus, beaten, bloodied and weak and bearing a cross on the way to his crucifixion, tripped and was pinned by the weight of the crossbeam he was carrying.
The scriptures do not say whether Simon knew who Jesus was or why he was the one “seized” in Luke and “forced” in Mathew to carry Jesus’ cross. Jesus needed help and a stranger, who had no choice, was picked out of the crowd to carry the King of the Jews’ burden.
All of us have a cross to bear, but we don’t have to do it alone. We are Easter people. Through the crucifixion and the resurrection Christ tells us he will be there to help us bear whatever burden or burdens we may face in our lives.