The Face of Favor: Simon of Cyrene Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Next, I want to proclaim that THE PRIVILEGE OF CROSS-BEARING SHOULD BE ACKNOWLEDGED IN OUR ACTIVE SERVICE FOR CHRIST.
Simon of Cyrene translated this public commitment to active service.
It is possible that he is the Simon who became a leader in the great missionary movement in Antioch.
He continued to be identified with Jesus by aggressively seeking to make disciples for Him.
Are we holding back from this public identification with Jesus Christ?
I must confess that there were times when I held my tongue when I should have spoken up for my Lord.
But never again; I will never deny Him again.
I will gladly bear my cross for Him.
Have you ever been afraid of the consequences for bearing your cross?
Do you ever consider the potential cost too high?
Simon had no choice the first time he was identified with Him, but what he learned about Jesus made him a willing cross-bearer.
He learned that bearing the cross of Jesus was actually a privilege.
We also should make a public acknowledgment of our faith and if that causes us to suffer, that’s a cross that is a privilege to bear.
The fourth thing that I want to assert is that THE FAVOR OF CROSS-BEARING CAN BE SHARED.
Simon of Cyrene led his two sons to be cross-bearing Christians.
He shared the privilege with them.
We are not given the details, but we are given the names of Alexander and Rufus.
The inclusion of their names indicates that they had become well known among the early Christians.
It’s wonderful to be able to tell others about Jesus, but nothing compares to seeing your children and grandchildren come to believe in Jesus as Savior.
I have to believe that Simon was the one who led Alexander and Rufus to the Lord.
The Gospel of Mark was written to be used as a gospel tract in the city of Rome.
When Paul wrote a letter to the Roman church, he sent greetings to Rufus and his beloved mother.
He said, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine” (Rom. 16:13).
Could his relationship to Rufus and his mother date back to Paul’s ministry with the church in Antioch?
There is a tradition that Rufus became an effective church leader and that his brother Alexander became a martyr for the cause of Christ.
And it all began with Simon bearing the cross.
At first, Simon felt as though it was the worst thing that could happen to him, but it soon became his greatest blessing.
It changed his life and the life of his family.
If we bear the cross of Christ, we will influence others.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to influence our own sons and daughters, and even our grandchildren to bear the cross of Christ as well?
We sing a Hymn that says, “Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free? No, there is a cross for everyone, and there is a cross for me.”
I read that there was another version of this hymn which says, “Must Simon bear the cross alone, and the saints go free? Each saint of Thine shall find his own, and there is one for me.”
Each one of us is called to bear the cross of Jesus.
You find this place of favor willingly.
The cross will not be forced on you.
You must make a public commitment of your life to Jesus Christ.
You must be willing to bear any shame or suffer any loss in His service.
Will you join Simon of Cyrene beneath the cross?
Let me leave you with this true story I read about two faithful women, who were cross-bearers for Christ.
“My God, why … ?” is not an unknown prayer among Christians.
We ask, “Why did she contract cancer?” “Why was I fired?” “Why does God seem to forget us?”
Yet Jesus, after having uttered, “My God, why … ?” on the cross, then whispered, “It is finished,” signaling not only the end of his suffering but the completion of his work.
Irene Ferrel graduated from the Bible Institute of Los Angeles with a burden for overseas missions.
She found her place in the Congo, where for 10 years she taught school, shared Christ, and worked in a dispensary in the Kwilu bush.
In 1964, Communist rebels mounted guerrilla raids to overthrow the government.
Missionaries in the Kwilu Province were threatened.
Irene and her co-worker Ruth Hege decided to evacuate from their station.
A helicopter was ordered, and on January 24, 1964, the two prepared to leave.
They packed essential belongings, and then gathered their Congolese workers for a final time of worship.
The final songs died down, the last prayers were offered, and the women began anticipating the chopper’s arrival.
When it didn’t come, they decided to retire and rise early to await it the next day.
Shortly after midnight, young, intoxicated rebels attacked.
The youngsters, some barely teenagers, were smoking hemp, smashing windows, and screaming for blood.
Storming the house, they dragged the women from their beds and danced around them in wild circles in the moonlight.
One youth shot an arrow into Irene’s neck.
With her last ounce of strength, she pulled it out, whispering, “I am finished,” and died.
Ruth Hege, also struck by arrows, pretended to be dead, not even moving when one of the rebels jerked out a handful of her hair.
Only after the attackers finally ran into the forest could Ruth crawl to safety.
Many other Christians perished during the 1960s Congolese turmoil.
It was a killing time.
Why was the helicopter late?
Why do God’s servants sometimes perish?
We’ll understand someday.
Most likely, we will never be called upon to go through anything like these two wonderful women had to suffer.
But each of us has a cross to bear for Jesus.
Let’s bear our cross joyfully, and serve our Lord until we go to be with Him.
Until then we trust Him, knowing that His kindness never fails.
Listen to these words from Lamentations, “I tell myself, ‘I am finished! I can’t count on the LORD to do anything for me.’ Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. That’s all I ever think about, and I am depressed. Then I remember something that fills me with hope. The LORD’s kindness never fails.” (Lamentations 3:18-22)