And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple‘ -Luke 14:27
Jesus is saying to me in this verse, ‘Die to yourself, so you can live in me. Follow me’. Sometimes, it does not feel like I am being called to die to myself for his good purposes. Sometimes it just feels like there is a literal cross bearing down on my back. It is heavy and full of splinters. I carry it around town, forgetting the purpose of it. I forget to carry the cross up to the hill. I forget that when I lay my sins down on it, he will raise me back up brand new. Daily. Every day he promises to make me new. But I must carry my cross with purpose, and there are times I cannot do it alone.
Jesus carried his own cross, to his own death. But not alone.
‘As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.‘ – Luke 23:26
Why was this necessary? Although Jesus was fully man, he was certainly fully God as well. He could have carried his own cross without Simon’s help. He had all authority under heaven. This struck my heart. This display was not about Jesus’ inability. Perhaps, God the father allowed Simon to help Jesus because we needed a picture of a biblical truth.
We need to understand we are not designed to carry our crosses alone. Even the Son of God carried his cross with another. God did not have to do this, but we are not God. This made me stop in my mental tracks and ask myself, Who am I inviting to carry my cross with me? Who am I helping to carry their cross?
We need to let godly people under the weight of our lives. Sometimes it is necessary to scoot over some and make room for another shoulder to under-gird a piece of the heavy wood. This is not shameful. We are in good company if we think of Jesus, bloody and broken, sharing his load. If we do this, it will be harder to forget the purpose of the cross. A godly friend holds us accountable. A godly friend will remind you to walk up that hill everyday and die to your selfishness in order that you can live. Without people like this in our lives, we surely will collapse from the strain of carrying our crosses alone. We would wander around town, working much harder for relief then God ever intended. ‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ‘ -Galatians 6:2
Simon from Cyrene was literally fulfilling the law of Christ, whether he knew it or not. The difference is, Simon was forced to carry the cross with Jesus. When he saw Jesus struggling to carry the weight, he didn’t jump out of the crowd and say ‘Let me help you! Let me carry that for you!’. And what of the disciples? What of all the followers Jesus had collected over his ministry? Not one jumped in to ease the load. Some watched him; Some didn’t even show up. Carrying the cross with Jesus was not on Simon’s agenda that day. The soldiers ‘made him’ clutch the cross. Maybe, just maybe, his mind shifted from focusing on the heavy weight on his back, to the heavy heart of the man he was helping. Sometimes we have to get under the burden to understand the importance of it. Simon had to get under the burden to really look into the man’s face. He placed himself under a cross that was not his own, and found Jesus there. How often do we willingly do this for others? Are we passive bystanders when we see others struggling; Are we even showing up?!
As believers, we are not forced to carry each others burdens. We are blessed to carry each others burdens. Because when we get under the burden, we will find Jesus there too. The road to salvation is not scattered with lonely individuals struggling to carry their splintered crosses. If that is what your road looks like, lift up your head from beneath your burden. God has placed people in your life for his perfect purposes; make room for them. He has placed you in others lives for his purposes too.
God used Simon in a beautiful way. Perhaps he was frightened at first when the soldiers approached him. Maybe he looked at Jesus and his heart was torn open. We don’t know. It is believed that the Rufus Paul mentions is Romans 16:13 is Simon’s son. Rufus was a believer, which is strong indication that Simon was too. When did this conversion happen? Again, we don’t know. What we do know: His job was to get that cross to the top of the mountain with Jesus and let God do the rest…no matter the struggle.
Let us open our eyes! Let us not watch on the sidelines while our brother struggles! Let’s get in there! Let us be a generation that willingly jumps under our brother’s cross. Let us be a generation that throws down our pride and creates space for others to love and carry us. When we carry each others burdens, we are one step deeper into the redemptive wonder of God’s love. When we carry each others burdens, we are shoulder to shoulder with Jesus.