In a moment my life was changed. It happened in the most unlikely way. You’re not going to believe this…this is a crazy story. Let me start out by saying that I’m Simon; I live in a Greek city called Cyrene, which is located not far from the North African coast. Like many other Jews, I had made the long trip to Jerusalem. In fact, it took me almost three weeks to get there. But I didn’t mind the trip so much…I was coming for Passover. I was trying to set an example for my wife, and two boys, Alexander and Rufus.
As I approached the city, I heard a loud commotion and soon came upon a huge crowd. I was a little curious, but mainly I was just trying to mind my own business. Trust me, the last thing I wanted that day was to get involved in some kind of drama. But then, suddenly, I was seized by some Roman soldiers and forced to carry the crossbeam for a criminal who was walking the Via Dolorosa. He had been beaten so badly that he didn’t have the strength to make it all the way to Golgotha, where he would be crucified. So, I guess I was the “chosen” one to help him. But to be completely honest, I had conflicting emotions about this whole ordeal. On one hand, I felt sorry for this man who had been beaten so mercilessly, and who was being mocked and despised. His blood was on the crossbeam, and flowing down his face. What exactly did he do to warrant such an inhumane treatment? Why did the Roman authorities and the Jewish leaders hate him so much? Was he that bad? Perhaps he deserved it. I don’t know.
But either way, I was completely surprised that I was made to carry this man’s cross. I mean think about it: out of all the people there that day, why was I the one compelled to carry this? One moment I was minding my own business; and the next I was carrying a heavy, bloodied crossbeam for a man sentenced to death. To be honest, I was a little annoyed I was made to do this…this was not my plan. Why didn’t the Roman soldiers just carry it? Why me? Why not someone else? And frankly, I was embarrassed to be carrying the cross of a criminal. But there seemed to be something different about this man. He did not seem full of hate and anger like most common criminals; in fact, He seemed to be filled with love…even for the very ones who were leading him to his death! So, I have to wonder: did I just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time…or was I chosen by God to walk in the footsteps of this man they’re calling Jesus? Could it be that I was supposed to be here for this reason? Could it be that this “criminal” was really something else? Could it be that I, of all people, stumbled into one of the most unforgettable roles in the drama of redemption?