John Piper is founder and teacher of and chancellor that Bethlehem university & Seminary. Because that 33 years, he offered as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. That is author of much more than 50 books, consisting of Desiring God: Meditations that a Christian Hedonist and also most recently Providence.

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John Piper is founder and teacher of and also chancellor of Bethlehem university & Seminary. Because that 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. The is writer of more than 50 books, consisting of Desiring God: Meditations the a Christian Hedonist and also most newly Providence.

Audio Transcript

Happy great Friday — or therefore we speak to it. It is a joyful day, also if that is the most solemn work in the church calendar. We talked around reckoning the repulsion and also the pleasure of the cross last time. This day we talk about one the the little stories the the crucifixion narrative, pastor John, specifically the figure of Simon that Cyrene.

A listener come the podcast write us around it. “Hello, minister John! analysis through the story of the crucifixion this week, something recorded my fist that I had actually read over many times. In Luke 23:26, amid the crucifixion event, us read, ‘And together they led away, lock seized one Simon that Cyrene, that was coming in indigenous the country, and laid on that the cross, to bring it behind Jesus.’ I know that God is sovereign, and also therefore this was not an accident or a random detail included into the story. What’s the significance of Simon carrying Jesus’s cross? What walk God want us to check out here?”

Famous Simon that Cyrene

This was really great for me come think around because I’ve check out that a hundreds times and have no paused, like so numerous of this questions pressure me come do. And that’s yes, really valuable. Sometimes, as soon as authors space reporting facts, they give us clean clues and also pointers as to why castle are including those facts and what lock want united state to learn from them. I don’t watch really clear, decisive ideas here or in any of the Gospels because that why the Gospel writers include this fact.

“Jesus prayed the the horrors the suffering and also death i will not ~ deter the from his obedience and his conserving mission.”

One that the reasons for that may be that Simon, who brought the cross, may have end up being a well-known presence in the early on church so that the mere referral to his name features as just one more historical evidence. It would certainly be like saying, “This guy right there the you know, he lugged the cross.”

The factor this may be the situation is because in mark 15:21 Simon is referred to as the dad of Alexander and Rufus. It is an unusual item of information. Ns mean, it would be an extremely odd for mark to put that in unless he meant his reader to understand who Alexander and also Rufus were. And also Mark is sometimes linked with Peter together a Gospel writer, and Peter is linked with Rome, and in Romans 16, yes sir a male named Rufus.

There are tiny things choose that that cause people to say, “Okay, this is one allusion come a male that everybody in the church knew.” that had come to be something the a recognized person, and so girlfriend don’t have to say anything about him. It would be like saying, “He’s the one who lugged the cross. Isn’t that amazing? You can go talk to him and also ask him what it to be like.”

Five Suggestions

But I suspect that in Luke’s mind over there was more going top top than just a historical link between the crucifixion and also a person who was known as the dad of Alexander and also Rufus. Let me make part suggestions. And that’s really all lock are. Ns willing to make them as suggestions rather than pronouncements that certainties that i see.

It may be the those who listen to me might see much more than ns see and make one of the suggestions relocate toward, “Oh, the really to be intended by Luke.” for this reason I’m giving you homework to execute (kind of).

1. Offered by a Foreigner

My first suggestion is based upon Simon being defined as indigenous Cyrene. It is a city in north Africa, today’s Libya. We don’t recognize if he was Jewish or Gentile since the name Simon was common for Greeks and also Jews.

We don’t know if he was visiting Jerusalem or live there, however what we recognize is that the Gospels attract attention come the fact that this man’s got a international origin. He’s an African. Luke could say, “Let the be provided that a foreigner offered Jesus in his final hour — indeed, one African.” That’s suggestion number one.

2. Choose Up your Cross

Second, Luke is the only one of the Gospels that claims Simon brought the overcome behind Jesus. All the various other Gospels that point out this simply say he brought it. Go Luke want united state to psychic Luke 9:23, whereby he said, “If anyone would come ~ me, allow him deny himself and also take increase his cross daily and also follow me”? In various other words, is Luke suggesting to us this is a snapshot of what discipleship is?

3. Sudden Suffering

Third, if we think that Luke to be pointing to this occasion as a parable of discipleship, prefer I simply suggested, could the reality that Simon was favored so suddenly and unexpectedly for the hefty task it is in Luke’s means of teaching united state that we don’t always choose the moment of our cross bearing?

“Simon to be a real historical person, and he was there in ~ a real historical moment.”

We don’t always choose the moment of our suffering. They come upon united state in unanticipated ways, horrible ways, heavy ways, pains ways, seemingly random ways. In various other words, the fact that Simon was liked seemingly randomly — ns mean, it simply says he was coming in indigenous the field, to be coming in from the country — that tiny added note seems to say, “This is arbitrarily — girlfriend think.”

This can be a lesson that every minute of our stays coming in indigenous the country, we should be ready to be snatched into the organization of Jesus in a pains way. And we simply don’t know when.

4. Preserved Alive because that the Cross

Fourth, i think most people would assume that demanding someone else to bring Jesus’s cross method he to be at the break point, also weak to complete the trek top top his own. But what we might not think about as conveniently is whether this action to obtain Simon to assist was an action of compassion or cruelty or simple expediency. Here’s what i mean.

If that couldn’t lug his cross, somebody had to due to the fact that these soldiers are charged, “Crucify him.” and also if they to speak they let him dice on the way, somebody is walk to it is in ticked. Maybe it was simply pure expediency: “We acquired to gain this guy up over there to obtain him crucified.” Or it might have been a moment of compassion from one of the roman inn soldiers.

Or — this is what I had actually not establish — Matthew Henry suggests it may be the they experienced Jesus was around to die under the burden and also they were so bloodthirsty or fear of penalty from Pilate the they want to make sure he endured for the remaining torture. In various other words, simply the the contrary of compassion: “We’ve obtained to gain nails v his hands and also nails v his feet. Us can’t let this man simply die below of exhaustion under his cross.”

5. Heavenly Help

Fifth (my final suggestion), only Luke tells us that in the garden that Gethsemane Jesus is in agony and was helped by one angel together he prayed. In Luke 22:43, an point of view came and also helped him, sustained him, gave him strength. In Hebrews 5:7 the says, “Jesus available up prayers and also supplications, with loud cries and also tears, to him that was may be to conserve him native death, and also he to be heard since of his reverence.”

“The call to endure for Jesus is regularly sudden and also costly and also seemingly random.”

He to be heard since of his reverence, his godly fear. Now just how does that work? he prayed that God would save him indigenous death and he was heard. Well, the died. I’ve argued in an short article at Desiring God that Jesus was saved from death in answer to his cry, not in the sense that he didn’t die, yet in the feeling that the was conserved from the faith-destroying powers of death.

In other words, fatality loomed in front of him. And he to be a human being being. Fatality was so awful that it might have deterred him from obedience. And also he pleaded through his Father, “Don’t let fatality destroy me choose that.” and also an angel came and helped him.

What he was praying was no that he i will not ~ die, however that the horrors the suffering and also death wouldn’t deter that from his obedience and his conserving mission. Might it be, then, the Simon’s stepping in to assist Jesus make it come the cross, to assist Jesus simply at that moment, was choose the angel arriving at the perfect moment as the humanly weak Jesus in the garden the Gethsemane — and now on the roadway to the cross — needed aid to end up his mission?

What us Know

Whether these five suggestions are component of Luke’s intention as he writes, what we know is this:

Simon to be a real historic person, and also he to be there in ~ a real historical moment. He to be a foreigner, one African, who served Jesus in his last hour. transporting the overcome behind Jesus is a beautiful and also painful snapshot of our calling as disciples, follow to Luke 9. Whether Luke intended united state to see that or not, that true. The call to experience for Jesus is frequently sudden and also costly and also seemingly random. Simon’s assist proved to it is in both a relief temporarily, yet also included suffering due to the fact that it sustained Jesus to acquire to the cross and also have the horrible endure of crucifixion for us. We understand that as soon as Jesus cried out to his heavenly dad in Gethsemane, the was provided help. That needed help so that his obedience would not falter. God reply his prayers. These were the hardest hours of Jesus’s life.

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As us meditate on all these details, oh, what love and thankfulness have to rise in our hearts.