Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Reflection on Luke 23

In many stories of the Bible I’m drawn to periphery characters. I wonder what it was like for them to witness the event—to stand still and watch. Here in the chapter on the crucifixion I wonder about Simon of Cyrene. Here was a Jew from a land hundreds of miles away. He had come for the Passover or perhaps on business. He may have heard of Jesus as one hears the town gossip. But he did not follow Jesus. He did not give up all he knew for this man. Jesus limps along to Golgotha, trying to carry a cross. The crowd gathers in for a crucifixion, which is always good spectacle. So Simon watches like everyone else. Taller than most he has a good view as Jesus moves from the fortress to the hill. I wonder what he thought at that moment. Did he feel pity? Did he know that Jesus was an innocent man? Did he care? It was a rough world, with rough justice, and he was keeping his nose clean. Then Jesus passes by. He collapses under the weight of the cross and the world. No Roman would carry a cross and this Jesus guy is too weak, so the soldiers scan the crowd and see a large, tall man. “You!” they yell, “come here!” And Simon knows it is not worth protesting soldiers with whips. So he comes and lifts the wooden beam and is surprised at how light it is. And as the soldiers whip Jesus, Simon follows, carrying the cross.

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