The Man Who Helped Jesus

God's plan for your life

Mark 15:21-32 The Man Who Helped Jesus

Simon the cyrenian

21 Then they compelled  22 And they brought Him  23 Then they gave Him wine

24 And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments 25 and they crucified Him.

27 With Him they also crucified two robbers, 29 And those who passed by blasphemed Him,  31 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes,  32 Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.

  • There was only one group of people that were remembered, or at least were impactful enough in their life that they got mentioned by Mark in this discourse
  • Everyone else who was mentioned was not mentioned by name or remembered past what they did. They were just “they” nothing more. Not even worth a mention or a remembrance.
  • Except THESE guys-
  • 21 Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus,
  • Who was this Simon?
  • He’s mentioned in Matthew, mark and luke as the one who carried the cross of Jesus to where Jesus was crucified.
  • Cyrene was located in Modern day Libya. Many scholars suggest that Simon was a dark skinned African jewish man who had come to Jerusalem to worship at Passover
  • Now there’s not a very clear connection for this simon to other people in the Bible, but many scholars believe that he could be the Simon in Acts Acts 13:1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
  • Some believe that those in acts 13 were also black- Barnabas was from Cyrpus which was inhabited by dark skinned people, Lucius was also cyrenean, Niger is latin for “black” and even Saul was assumed to be Egyptian by some
  • The Cyreneans were impactful in the spread of Christianity- we have multicultural roots
  • Because at Pentecost, there were cyreneans that were saved Acts 2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
  • These Cyreneians converts were instrumental in spreading the Gospel
  • Acts 11:20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.
  • Some believe same Rufus in- Romans 16:13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
  • These dark skinned brothers were worth being remembered. They were worth being written down and have a place in history because of their impact on the Gospel in its early stages.
  • But it wasn’t his skin color that made him famous. Why do I include it? I think its an interesting part of the story. His race doesn’t have any influence on the story as much as it broadens your mindset of who the people of Bible were and the type of people that are important in the Biblical narrative. No one was remembered in this story but the Black man and his sons.
  • But whats the applicability to us? What do we learn from the life of Simon? He just jumps into the narrative. What’s the implications?
  1. Simon didn’t choose the cross
  • “and they compelled him” Simon didn’t step up to bear the weight of the cross of Jesus- it was given to him. He was forced to take it. Upon being aware of his predicament, he could have refused (unlikely based on the Roman guard) or fell under the weight of it
  • But he took it. He took it like a man. They forced him and he stood under the weight of it
  • The symbolism of the Cross is the cost of sin, the weight of sin, the path of redemption from Sin the weariness of it all. Carrying a cross was a big deal
  • But we were all born into sin Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—
  • Simon hadn’t sinned to receive this cross. He was just there- But the reality IS he was born into sin because of the sin of Adam- He was guilty. He was away from God. He was in need of a savior. He may not have KNOWN it at that moment- but Simon was under the wrath of God
  • Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
  • The last act of a man under sin before the ultimate act of the savior removing it- carrying the weight of the cross before the weight of the cross rested upon the shoulders of Jesus
  • It wasn’t just a physical weight- it was a spiritual weight. Every sin of every person, past present and future placed upon Jesus at Golgotha. And here is this non-descript man forced to carry
  • And here’s Simon- carrying the cross for Jesus- He if anyone, was the first to feel the weight of sin removed from his physical body-
  • Have you ever had to carry something heavy for a long time? Ruck marches in Army- probably 50lb at least for 15-20 miles.
  • You weren’t allowed to help people they had to carry their own weight.
  • I can identify with Simon here- carrying this weight and what it must have felt like having Jesus lift it off. It probably felt amazing! He carried almost 650 yards for him!
  • 1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
  • What does it mean to you?
  • you might think that you don’t have any sin, or that you’ve never sinned, but the reality is that you do need a savior. You need to be saved from your sins.
  • Just like Simon didn’t choose the cross- it was put on him- sin was put on YOU. You were placed with the weight of sin from birth. Even if you were born into a good family. Even if lived a good life. You have a sin nature that needs to be dealt with and if not, you’re accountable for it!
  • Watched a video this week on fb- pope answering question from a young boy about the whereabouts of his atheist father- “you had a good father because he had you baptized’ God wouldn’t turn away a good man- he said
  • Luke 18:19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
  • No one is good. We all need a savior.
  • Ecclesiastes 7:20 For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin.
  • Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
  • I tell the truth. I told my son a few years ago- he needs to repent and turn to God. He’s not getting into heaven because his dad is a pastor. He must repent and turn to God on his own
  • I wasn’t playing games- Years ago I was looking for fruit in my sons life and I didn’t see it.
  • We all bear the weight of sin like Simon and it must be dealt with- it must.
  1. Jesus needs the help but he doesn’t need the help
  • Have you ever had a kid who wanted to help, but having them help took twice as long and was three times as troublesome?
  • I wasn’t good at this as a young father. I missed many opportunities- because I was impatient
  • What is interesting about this story is that Simon helps Jesus. At this point, Jesus has been severly beaten. He can no longer carry the cross, but the crucifixion must continue
  • We don’t really think about it though- We say “he was beaten and crucified”
  • C Truman Davis ( who was a physican) Wrote
  • Preparations for the scourging were carried out when the Prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. It is doubtful the Romans would have made any attempt to follow the Jewish law in this matter, but the Jews had an ancient law prohibiting more than forty lashes. The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs.
  • At first the thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped.  The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood.
  • The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. Flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used in bundles for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp. Again there is copious bleeding, the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body.
  • After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back. Already having adhered to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, its removal causes excruciating pain just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, and almost as though He were again being whipped the wounds once more begin to bleed. In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans return His garments. The heavy patibulum of the cross is tied across His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion begins its slow journey along the Via Dolorosa.
  • In spite of His efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance. The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus follows, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock, until the 650 yard journey from the fortress Antonia to Golgotha is finally completed.
  • JESUS NEEDED SIMONS HELP. Jesus was 100% God and 100% man and the Man part of Jesus was so unrecognizably beaten and bloody that he couldn’t carry his cross anymore.
  • He just couldn’t do it. He was done
  • The Centurion Demands for Simon to do it, and here’s the rub of it though- Jesus is God in the flesh. Like the old song, “he could have called ten thousand angels”
  • Matthew 26:53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?
  • He didn’t really “need” Simon, but he allowed Simon to help him. Simon was part of the process of the salvation of the world. He was used by God to bring Jesus to the Cross
  • Jesus could have carried his own cross, but Simon was used by God in the process
  • What does it mean to you
  • God doesn’t need you to accomplish his purposes, but he graciously allows us to be a part of the process
  • God is God all by himself. He made the world. He can do whatever he wants. YET he includes US Psalm 8:4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?
  • Acts 17:24-26 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.
  • Jesus told his disciples that they would do GREATER THINGS because he NEEDED THEM
  • John 14:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
  • Jesus told his disciples they would do great things. I’ve been preaching longer than Jesus did. I’ve done greater than Jesus ( I am not greater than Jesus tho)
  • Jesus told his disciples- Matthew 28: 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you
  • We’re used by God! We’re instrumental in his plans! What an honor an privelege
  • Romans 10: 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent?
  • Who we are and what we can do is instrumental in bringing people to Jesus
  • Don’t underestimate your influence. Don’t downplay your role in the cosmic plan of God
  • Here’s a guy Simon- just a guy from Cyrene. Forever immortalized in the scriptures as the man who helped Jesus get to the cross. The place where salvation happened for all humanity
  • Can God do it without you? He sure can! The Gospel went forward for about 1960 years before I was saved. It went forward without me. But once I got the Gospel? I’ve been doing my part
  • How much are you doing? What are you doing to move forward the gospel?
  • What cross are you carrying? What’s the impact that you’re having on the Gospel?
  • If you serve here you’re pushing the gospel. If you tithe here you’re pushing the Gospel. If you’re ministering to people and getting involved in the process, you’re pushing the Gospel.
  • But if you’re doing nothing, then you’re doing nothing. You’re not being used by God to spread the Gospel and its right time you started doing it.
  1. Simon father of Alexander and Rufus was remembered
  • It is distinctive that Simon was named the father of Alexander and Rufus
  • Remember- no one else was named in this story- Mark makes it a point to record his name- His life was worth remembering. He made the final cut.
  • More than likely this nondescript man became intricately involved in the expansion of the church based on this first interaction
  • He went from forced to ‘my life has been changed”
  • the mention of a “Rufus chosen in the Lord” as prominent among the Christians of Rome in Romans 16:13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
  • Paul speaks of the mother of Rufus as being also his mother and so we are led to the belief that the wife of Simon of Cyrene must, at some time or other, at Antioch or Corinth, and afterwards at Rome, have come within the inner circle of Paul’s friends.
  • This, in its turn, connects itself with the prominence given to “men of Cyrene” in Luke’s account of the foundation of the Gentile Church of Antioch Acts 11:20
  • What is this? These are lives that were affected by what they saw and it changed the trajectory of their family tree! Dad got saved, the kids Got saved, and lives were changed
  • Because of what Simon did and saw, his family went on to change the world- establish the church and be part of the inner circle of Paul
  • I don’t know what simon did for a job. I don’t know what his hobbies were. I don’t know much
  • What I do know is that 2000 years later, I’m in Auburn Washington talking about a family that was part of sharing the Gospel
  • What does it mean to you?
  • If the Bible was written today, would you get a mention? Would you be included in the script?
  • The World may not remember what you have done, but God will remember what you have done
  • The Bible talks about rewards for doing good
  • Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
  • Matthew 5:12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
  • Revelation 22:12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
  • Receive your rewards in Heaven. Live for Jesus NOW. Be willing You’ll get the crown of LIFE
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