This week we will be focusing on the Stations of the Cross, the series of events on Jesus’ last day leading up to His crucifixion. Depictions of these events can often be found in the form of paintings or carvings in churches or cathedrals. Of the twelve stations known, we will focus on the eight mentioned in the Bible, focusing on the meaning of the cross.
Read: Luke 23:26 NLT
As they led Jesus away, a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, happened to be coming in from the countryside. The soldiers seized him and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.
Simon helps carry the cross.
When criminals were taken to crucifixion, Roman officials forced them to carry their cross. It was their way of showing others what would happen to them if they did not submit to the government. As Jesus was carrying His cross to the place of crucifixion (Golgotha), the soldiers forced a man named Simon to carry Jesus’s cross behind him. After all the flogging and beatings Jesus endured up to this point, it is conceivable He was becoming weaker, perhaps even to the point of death. Scripture does not share why Simon was chosen to carry the cross, but it is conceivable they were trying to keep Jesus alive until they reached Golgotha.
As hard as it may seem, this was a spectator sport. It was important the prisoner did not die until he was crucified. That is what everyone came to see. However, there is meaning behind everything in the Bible, so what could this point in the story mean? Prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus was known to travel and teach to the crowds that followed Him. On one such occasion, He was explaining the cost of being a disciple. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus tells His followers, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple”. Given the cross was known for crucifixion and ultimately death, He was telling His disciples that truly following Him was a sacrifice. They were to bring death to their own selfish desires and follow Him. For some of the disciples, that ultimately meant physical death.
However, Jesus went on to say, whoever loses their life for me will save it”. Returning to the story of Simon, we see him carrying the cross for Jesus – notably behind Jesus. Simon was bearing the cross for Jesus and following Him. We are called to do the same. To let go of our selfish desires and live our life according to God’s plan. We may not face death like the disciples did, but we will be challenged in our walk with Him. However, the sacrifice will be worth the eternal life we are promised.
Ref: Luke 9:23, Luke 14:27