The story of Jesus carrying the cross before his crucifixion is one of the most moving accounts in the Bible. Believers feel indebted to follow in his footsteps, especially because the Word implies that he suffered to free all sinners. While trying to understand the pain he endured since he was arrested until his death, many people wonder, who helped Jesus carry the cross?
The Gospel of Mark implies that Simon of Cyrene was forced to help Jesus carry the cross. The Bible says the man was on his way from the country when they seized him and made him carry the cross behind Jesus.
In this article, we will get to understand what Christian scholars say about Simon of Cyrene’s act and discuss the evidence as implied by the scriptures.
What does the Bible say about Simon of Cyrene?
According to Mark 15:21, Simon of Cyrene was the father of Alexander and Rufus. The three gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, explain that this man was returning from the country and was forced to help Jesus carry the cross. The Bible indicates that he was placed behind Jesus. “…and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.” Luke 23:26.
Why did Simon of Cyrene help Jesus carry the cross?
Simon of Cyrene was forced by the Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry the cross. The soldiers saw that Jesus did not have sufficient strength to carry it by himself; hence they seized the man from Cyrene and ordered him to assist.
Theologians suggest that Simon of Cyrene illustrated the theological truths found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. ‘For through the law, I died to the law so I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ Galatians 2:19-20
This verse suggests that when people put their faith in Christ, they share in his death, even if not literally, but they die to sin. Simon was forced to carry the cross. In the same way, many believers became so without understanding that they had to surrender their old selves to live anew in Christ. It was only later when believers discovered just like Simon of Cyrene that they had to be ‘crucified with Jesus’. According to the scriptures, when we take up the cross of Christ, we will lose our lives but later discover that we have true life in Christ.
However, the scriptures imply that unlike Simon of Cyrene, people are not forced to join Christ. Then he said to them all: Rather, it says that the Lord calls unto the world to join him and promises abundance in return. Luke 9:23-24 tells us, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’
What was the significance of Simon of Cyrene carrying Jesus’ cross?
Theologians have studied all the scriptures showing Simon of Cyrene’s act of helping Jesus carry the cross, and they suggest that this act had a lot of significance.
According to Luke 9:23-24, the Bible says, ‘Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’
Simon of Cyrene carries the cross, implying that to be a disciple does not only mean following His Word. It is also to identify with his suffering and his surrender and taking up the cross daily to walk like Him. In return, Christians believe they will enjoy eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at it this way. Simon could see and feel what Jesus was going through. He felt the humiliation, the abuses coming their way, and the sneers from the public. He bore the same pain that Jesus had. This is what believers understand it means to be a disciple. You must undergo life’s hardships and still stick with God.
Call to Serve
The Bible talks of how Simon was a man passing by on his way in from the country when the soldiers seized him. It was so sudden, random, and unexpected. Although we are not told this in the Bible, he might have thought to refuse, but probably out of fear for what the soldiers would do, he accepted.
This instance implies how sometimes Christians will be expected to suffer for Jesus. The calls may be random and might be at any time. The Gospel of Luke shows believers do not always choose the day they are called to suffer for Jesus. This is a lesson for believers to always be ready to be called into the service of Jesus.
Sustaining Jesus for the Cross
The soldiers must have noted that Jesus was growing weary carrying his cross. This is why they had to get someone to assist him. However, Christian scholars argue that there was more to this act than meets the eye. In previous scriptures, Jesus predicted his suffering and death thrice. On the third time, he mentioned he was to be crucified and rise again after three days.
‘Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day, he will be raised to life!’ Matthew 20:17-19.
Remember that Christians believe that Christ died to free them from sin. He knew he would be killed, yet he never once tried to save himself. He did not resist when the soldiers were sent for him, nor did he perform a miracle and release himself from the cross, yet he could. This is because he knew this is what his father, God, had sent him to do- to save humanity from sin. This is why John 3:16 says, ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten son. So that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.’
So what if he died on the way because the cross was too heavy? The scriptures would not have been fulfilled. This is why scholars suggest that Simon of Cyrene had to come in and help him reach the cross. He had to be sustained until the end.
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- Who Helped Jesus Carry the Cross?
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.