Sometimes in Scripture,
we get a glimpse of a person and learn a lot about them even though there is little said of them. There is one man in the New Testament who makes an incredible impression on the lives of people around the world. He is included in the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He is the man who comes out of nowhere and makes a grand appearance, setting an example to believers everywhere. Today, we are going to unpack more about Simon of Cyrene, also known as the man who carried Jesus’ cross.
Who Was Simon of Cyrene and What Did He Do?
Simon of Cyrene was a man present at the crucifixion of Jesus. We do not know much about him according to the Bible; however, he is named and honored for his act of carrying the cross of Christ. This man is described as passing through and then forced to carry the cross. He likely could have been going to attend the Passover. When we think about long his journey must have been to Jerusalem, He must have had great anticipation for the Passover Celebration. However, the moment that the cross was placed on his back, he was considered unclean for the ceremony. How interesting that Simon could have fought for religion, but He was blessed with the obedience to carry the cross of the Savior.
Cyrene is modern-day Libya, Africa. Jason Soroski from Crosswalk says, “Cyrene was a city in what is now modern Libya in Northern Africa and had a significant Jewish population. The fact that he is ‘of Cyrene’ tells us that he did not live in Jerusalem where this event takes place but had traveled there from his home.”
The History Hub says, “Cyrene was an ancient Greek colony situated near present-day Shahhat, Libya. It was the oldest and most significant city in that region that flourished during the Roman times as well.”
What Does the Bible Say about Him?
Scripture does not give us much information about Simon of Cyrene. That is part of the mystery of Simon. Below are the only Bible references with his name included.
Matthew 27:32 says, “Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross.”
Mark 15:21 says, “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.”
Luke 23:26 says, “Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.”
What this tells us is that Simon was given Jesus’ cross. He was likely married and was a father to two sons. He was foreign. He was a visual representation of Luke 14:27 which tells us, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Notice how the verse in Luke tells us that Simon bore the cross after Jesus. I love that imagery of how Christ carried the cross first so that we might carry ours after him.
Luke 9:23 says, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” How can we follow Jesus into our suffering moments? How can we bring honor to Jesus by carrying His name with us daily? The Lord reminds us through Simon to follow after Jesus in bravery and in trust, knowing that He is worth the sacrifice. We love because Jesus first loved us (1 John 4:19). Jesus carried the weight of the world, so may we consider it a joy to carry the weight of our crosses daily.
Do We Know What Happened to Simon of Cyrene after the Crucifixion?
Lisa Loraine Baker from Bible Study Tools shares, “Scripture makes no direct mention of Simon of Cyrene after the Resurrection. Tradition states Simon went to Egypt and shared the Gospel. After that, according to the apocryphal Acts of Simon and Judas, Simon was martyred in 100 A.D by being cut in half with a saw.”
Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus. When Paul wrote Romans, He mentions Romans 16:13 says to greet Rufus and his mother. He explains that Rufus’ mother (this could be Simon of Cyrene’s wife) was like a mother to him.
Compelling Truth shares, “People from Cyrene were among the first Christian believers at the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10). Perhaps Simon, Alexander, and Rufus were among those who heard and believed? If so, the connection of Rufus in Romans 16:13would not be surprising.”
Let’s think about that, a foreign man could have been bullied by Roman guards at the crucifixion because of his race. Why did they select him? I cannot help but wonder if because he was a foreigner, the guards gave Simon the burden of the cross. He could have looked at the situation in humiliation and frustration, but maybe He looked in the eyes of Jesus? Maybe he saw an innocent man going to be murdered and felt the privilege of relieving some of the burden? Perhaps this time of being called out by man, he knew that he was being called up by the Lord. This moment of embarrassment could have been the turning point for the eternal future of Simon and his family. If Simon and his family were present at the Pentecost in Acts 2, that moment of the cross could have led to their intrigue. If Rufus in Romans 16:13 was the same Rufus as Simon’s son, this means that Simon’s wife played a significant role in the life of the apostle Paul.
What is the moment in your life that could appear to be a negative, but through spiritual eyes, you can see how God is using it for your good and His glory? We can learn so many things from the humility and the perseverance of Simon of Cyrene.
Interesting Facts about Simon of Cyrene
Simon’s name is only mentioned three times in the Bible.
Simon was a foreigner traveling through during the crucifixion.
Simon had the honor of helping Jesus in one of Jesus’ weakest moments. I do not know about you, but the thought of Jesus, the God of all, being weak and needing me to help Him is a humbling thought. I wonder if Simon felt this way. I wonder if He knew this was God in human form. Regardless, he was given an unusual task to carry the cross
We do not get a lot of definitive answers on Simon of Cyrene. However, there is a great lesson that we serve the Lord alone. We do not to be known by man, but to bless our Father. Maybe you feel like you are simply a name. Maybe you wonder if the “behind the scenes” work that you are doing is never noticed. The Lord tells us that He sees us (Proverbs 15:3). You are not unknown, you are valued. You are not just a cross-carrier; you have the high honor of continuing on the mission of the Gospel.
At Easter, the Son of God took on the world’s sin and defeated the devil, death, and grave. How is it, then, that history’s most glorious moment is surrounded by fearful fishermen, despised tax collectors, marginalized women, feeble politicians, and traitorous friends?
In The Characters of Easter, you’ll become acquainted with the unlikely collection of ordinary people who witnessed the miracle of Christ’s death and resurrection. This FREE podcast provides a fresh approach to the Lenten season and can be used as a devotional or study for both individuals and groups.
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