Chronicled in Matthew, Mark, and Luke
785 miles—that is the approximate distance from Cyrene, Lybia to Jerusalem, Israel. By comparison, that is a quarter of the way across America. Simon walked it. Perhaps he rode on a camel or donkey for some of the way. Who knows? Still, he didn’t hop in his hotrod and shoot on over to Israel. This is a trip that may have taken upward of a week or two. It seems that Simon was a man of dedication.
There are no indications from Scripture that Simon was a rich man. Therefore, one would assume that Simon had probably been saving for months to make this excursion, what with food, lodging, and other travel costs to consider. Sufficed to say, it may have been the only such trip he had ever taken. If so, it would have been the “adventure of a lifetime.” Simon must have looked at this journey as a pilgrimage of sorts. You see, it is theorized that Simon was a Cyrenean Jew. After all, Cyrene had a fairly large Jewish population. Besides, why else would he have made such a trek from home to be in Jerusalem during the Jewish Passover week? Coincidence? I think not.
Once in the “Holy City,” Simon would have enjoyed all of the Passover festivities. Yes, it would have been a truly great week for the devout Simon, as he commemorated the delivering of his people from the Egyptians way back when. This was a trip Simon would remember forever. Little did he know, his entire life was about to change; for Simon was about to encounter the Master.
Simon was coming out of the countryside to enter the city, when he was passed by a large processional following three “criminals” on their way to be crucified. They were going out and he was coming in. He was about to be re-directed in more ways than one. As he fought his way through the riotous crowd, innocently trying to reach the city gates, he was spotted by Roman centurions. “You! Carry this one’s cross!” they shouted. “No, please, not me. Not now. Not here,” he must have thought. “Why couldn’t they just have left me alone?” Simon took hold of the blood-soaked crossbeam as he came alongside this wretched soul, beaten unrecognizable and barely able to stand. Then, Jesus turned and looked at him.
Simon knew in an instant. “This is the one, the one they’ve all been talking about. He’s the one who has healed the sick, caused the blind to see, and made the lame walk. It’s Him!” Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” depicts their arduous climb to Golgotha beautifully. Simon, with each step, felt more deeply for the broken man whose cross he helped to bear. Simon came to Jerusalem seeking a once-in-a-lifetime experience. He got it. He met his savior.
So, how do we triumph in the midst of trial? Keep your spiritual eyes open. An ordinary day can become a life-changing event when God gets involved.