Friday Evening Easter service, Erlo Stegen, 14 April 2017
And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.
Simon from North Africa was compelled to carry the cross of Christ. Many people followed Jesus and mourned for Him, among them women, to whom He said, “do not weep for Me, but for yourself and your children” (Luke 23:28).
It’s written that He came to His own but they did not receive Him (John 1:11). Jesus came to the Jews but they did not receive Him. There are some painful words in the Bible, and this is one of those heartbreaking words, that He came to His own but they did not receive Him. They had been waiting for the Messiah for thousands of years, but when He eventually came, they did not receive Him. It breaks one’s heart. Many of those too who prayed that the Messiah should come, distanced themselves from Him when He came. May we not do the same that we pray for His coming but when He comes then we distance ourselves from Him.
There are 3 unusual people, who went along with Him and on the way they met up with the faith in Christ. The first one was Simon from Cyrene. He was a stranger from North Africa. Another one was the thief, crucified on the one side of our Lord. The third was the Roman soldier, a centurion, who acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God, when He saw how Jesus died (Matt 27:54).
That fulfilled the words Jesus spoke in the sermon on the Mount that broad is the way that leads to destruction and many go that way (Matt 7:13). But narrow is the way that leads to life and few find it.
Jesus was led to Golgotha alone, having been forsaken by all His own people.
Josephus wrote about the church in Cyrene. Many religious Jews from Cyrene (now Libya) came to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. Mark writes about him that he was the father of Rufus and Alexander in the church (Mark 15:21). And in the letter to the Romans Paul writes, “greet Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me too” (Rom 16:13). So if we take all these points we can conclude that his meeting with the Lord Jesus transformed his life. He saw Him crucified and believed on Him. God used Simon to start the church in Cyrene (Libya).
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on the donkey the people shouted hosannas. The Pharisees asked Him to quiet the people but He didn’t listen to them. Instead He went into the temple and chased out those who bought and sold there.
Take note of what the Lord Jesus said for when He speaks it is final. He told the women not to weep for Him but for themselves and their children. And His words were fulfilled in 70AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.
Woe to you and your children if you do not come to repentance.
There were 2 thieves crucified with Jesus, one on either side of Him. One got converted and repented and asked Jesus to remember Him. And Jesus answered Him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). But the other criminal hurled insults at Him and demanded that Jesus free them from the cross. However the first criminal rebuked him. So the one criminal went to heaven and the other to hell.
It is only if you have true remorse and humble yourself before the Lord Jesus that you will find salvation.
The question is, to which group do you belong? Where will you end? Remember, we won’t live in this world forever.
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