Voices of the Passion and Easter - Simon Cyrene

I have imagined the reactions and thought processes of those people involved in the Good Friday and Easter narrative.

I hope that it will assist you to meditate on these events with fresh thoughts.

I had travelled across from the north African coast back to the land of my forefathers so that I could participate in the Passover festival.

I got excited every year as I was reminded how God liberated His people from the slavery of the Egyptians and to spend the time with my own people.

But this year was different. I was walking, minding my own business when I saw a large crowd in front of me. At first, I thought that it was a funeral procession because the initial sounds that I heard were that of wailing women. What actually caught my attention was in the middle of the throng, I could see the pointed tops of the Roman spears.

I knew that road was well-known for condemned men to walk on the way to their crucifixions at Golgotha, which I had glimpsed in the past. However, there was something about this occurrence that made me want to step forward and take a closer look.

In the centre was a Man whose very appearance was abhorrent – the beatings that He had taken disguised any beauty that He had in the past. His strength was failing as He stumbled forward with His cross on this back and fell to the ground on several occasions.

There was almost a collective sigh as He struggled for a few paces before He went down on His knees that were severely scrapped and bloodied.

I felt a poke in my back as one of the accompanying soldiers prodded me with the blunt end of his spear and barked out the order that I was to pick up the cross of the prisoner and to take it to the place of execution.

I’d like to say that I took it up joyfully, but that wouldn’t be the truth. Actually, I resented being the one who carried that Man’s burden. I was sure that I had better things to do without being the centre of attention in such an unwanted way.

As we drew closer to Golgotha, the smell was overpowering with refuse thrown out from the city and the sickly smell of death from previous crucifixions. I could not hold my breath long enough and I didn’t have a free hand to clench my nose.

The Roman soldiers took the cross from me, laid it on the ground, nailed Jesus to it and raised it so He would die a humiliating death that would set me free from my sin and its consequences.

In sharing some of His indignity, I found that I had learned something of denying myself by taking up His cross and following Him.