Mar. 23, 2020 by Pastor Bob
His name was Simon of Cyrene. Until this moment no one in history had heard of him. After this moment everyone would know his name. According to Luke, he was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. At least that is the way most people would have seen it.
After all, who wanted to be conscripted by the Romans to carry the cross of a criminal? Of course he had no choice because he was one man and those soldiers represented the mighty Roman Empire. Even if he loved Rome it’s not likely he dreamed of serving the empire like this. Perhaps Simon had no idea what was really happening that day. He certainly wasn’t one of the disciples, maybe not even a follower of Jesus. It is possible that he had never heard of Jesus but instead had inadvertently walked into a mob scene, which was not uncommon in Roman times. We don’t know what brought him to this location, what he thought or whether he left the scene of the crime immediately after he had performed his duty. It seems he was swept up by a random series of events, assigned a task for which he did not volunteer. Those are the historical realities that we know, not much more.
However, alongside the historical events there is a divine story. Not long before this event Jesus instructed his disciples to “take up your cross and follow me.” But notice it was not the disciples who first followed Jesus’ command. It is a “random individual” who first follows the command but not necessarily on purpose. Who would have thought this invitation would be forced upon a person who was at the wrong place at the wrong time? There is a sense in which it was his cross and the cross of Jesus that he carried to Calvary. On this ordinary day Simon’s apparently insignificant life intersected with the divine life of God. He was not simply conscripted by the Romans to carry the cross of Jesus. He was not randomly assigned a grisly task in the events of a murder. Instead, he was chosen by God.
Maybe you do not see yourself in this story but you are there. Simon’s unexpected, random experience is frequently our own reality. Simon was chosen by God to be a character in the divine story of grace. Maybe later he reflected on that day with incredible awe, wonder and faith. It is also possible that he died unaware of the magnitude of those few moments which were divinely inserted into his earthly existence. Either way he was chosen by God. Let’s remind ourselves that our life runs parallel to a divine story of grace. There are moments in your day that will include an intersection with God’s story. You may never see them but they are there. Ask God to open your eyes to the parallel reality of the story of his grace right in the middle of your ordinary day.