Simon of Cyrene was frightened that he would be stuck carrying this damn cross all the way up the hill. He had tried to not stand out in the crowd. He stood a little bit back as people yelled at the criminals. Oh, he didn’t say anything. He just watched silently with his son clutching his hand.
Out of nowhere they caught him and made him carry Jesus’ cross. Everyone screamed at him. Some called him Jesus. They didn’t know. They all look the same. Poor dirty criminals. Jews. What if the soldiers forgot, too? What if they didn’t care? Pilate was back at his fortress. Maybe they would crucify all of us. His stomach dropped. Lord have mercy, he thought. God help me. His son moved alone after him yelling his name.
“If you want to follow me, deny yourself and pick up your own cross.” Simon remembered Jesus warning his disciples that the world wouldn’t throw you a party for doing what was right, let alone telling people about Jesus. He cried. Jesus was right. But so soon. He actually felt guilty. This wasn’t right, but what could he do about it? The crowd threw rocks at Jesus and called him every name in the book. Jesus looked evil, sick, grotesque. Simon was disappointed in Jesus too. He thought He would do something amazing, let alone restore the glory of Israel. Now He looked like the enemy of Israel. This was not glory!
Simon felt guilty. Regardless of how disappointing Jesus might be, He never did anything wrong. He actually loved people. He remembered watching Jesus hug a man with leprosy. Then Simon caught out of the corner of his eye, Rebecca. He knew her name although he was ashamed to admit it. She was a prostitute. Not everyone knew, but they had spent a lot of time together. He remembered seeing her earlier that day and pretended he didn’t know her as he laughed with a couple of friends. They looked away when she came near. Everyone looked away from her. His son would be so disappointed to think that he had cheated on his mom. Maybe he should carry this cross. His son yelled his name.
Simon cried. This was his cross. That’s it, he thought, I’m going to die. O God! I’m such a loser. I am such an idiot.
Suddenly the weight of the beam disappeared. With the release, he fell down in to the mud and dung.
“Get up!” A soldier yelled. He pushed himself up with his hands and saw his cross being fitted again for Jesus. He was free. He ran to his boy and hugged him tightly.
The boy cried, “daddy!” Then he pointed at the bloodied prisoner carrying Simon’s cross and said, “That man took it! Who is that?”
Simon looked him in the eye and said, “That’s Jesus. He’s my friend”