“And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” Matthew 27:32
Let us now gaze for a while upon Christ carrying his cross. He comes forth from Pilate’s hall with the cumbrous wood upon his shoulder, but through weariness he travels slowly. His enemies, urgent for his death and half afraid from his emaciated appearance that he may die before he reaches the place of execution, allow another to carry his burden. The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. They cannot spare him the agonies of dying on the cross; they will therefore remit the labor of carrying it. They place the cross upon Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country. Whether a disciple then or not, we have every reason to believe that he became so afterwards — he was the father, we read, of Alexander and Rufus, two persons who appear to have been well known in the early Church. Let us hope that salvation came to his house when he was compelled to bear the Saviour’s cross.
We see in Simon’s carrying the cross a picture of what the Church is to do throughout all generations. Mark then, Christian, Jesus does not suffer so as to exclude your suffering. He bears a cross, not that you may escape it, but that you may endure it. Christ does exempt you from sin, but not from sorrow. He does take the curse of the cross, but he does not take the cross of the curse away from you. Remember that, and expect to suffer.
Beloved, let us comfort ourselves with this thought: that in our case as in Simon’s, it is not our cross but Christ’s cross which we carry. When you are molested for your piety, when your religion brings the trial of cruel mocking’s upon you, then remember it is not your cross, it is Christ’s cross.
Do not forget that you bear this cross in partnership. It is the opinion of some commentators that Simon only carried one end of the cross, and not the whole of it. That is very possible. Christ may have carried the heavier end, against the transverse beam, and Simon may have borne the lighter end. Certainly it is so with you. You do but carry the light end of the cross; Christ bore the heavier end.
Although Simon carried Christ’s cross, he did not volunteer to do it; but they compelled him. I fear me, beloved, I fear me that the most of us if we ever do carry it, carry it by compulsion. At least when it first comes onto our shoulders we do not like it, and would fain run from it. But the world compels us to bear Christ’s cross. Cheerfully accept this burden, ye servants of the Lord. I do not think we should seek after needless persecution. That man is a fool and deserves no pity who purposely excites the disgust of other people. No, no, we must not make a cross of our own. Let there be nothing but your religion to object to, and then if that offends them let them be offended. It is a cross, which you must carry joyfully.
Though Simon had to bear the cross for a very little while, it gave him lasting honor. Well, beloved, the cross we have to carry is only for a little while at most. A few times the sun will go up and down the hill, a few more moons will wax and wane, and then we shall receive the glory. “I reckon that these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” We should love the cross and count it very dear, because it works out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. – C.H. Spurgeon