Jesus is being led through the streets of Jerusalem to the place of execution. After having been savagely beaten, he is staggering under the weight of the cross. Now we are going to meet one of the really interesting characters in the gospel of Mark. His name is a common one, yet his role in history is anything but common.

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. – Mark 15:21

Condemned criminals were commonly made to carry their own cross, or at least it’s heavy crosspiece. The vertical beam was probably fixed permanently at the place of execution.

The wooden cross-piece which the condemned criminals carried probably weighed around 45 kilos. They were probably tied across the shoulders of the condemned as they were marched to their death.

Having been severely beaten many times since the late hours of the previous evening, is it any wonder that Jesus staggered and fell under the weight of the cross? At this rate, the execution squad would never even get to the place of execution!

That’s why they forced a bystander to pick up the cross of Jesus and carry it for him. It was the last thing this man, a pilgrim from north Africa, had ever expected when he had made his travel plans to visit Jerusalem for the Passover.

What an unexpected privilege Simon had that day! He probably didn’t think of it like that at the time, because right then it must have seemed the most shameful and horrific experience in his life.

But we know that later he became a follower of Jesus. Sharing in the sufferings of Jesus transformed had him, and he came to count that day as the greatest day of his life. Are you willing to carry the cross? Are you willing to suffer with Jesus? Or are you in it just for the blessings?

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*The Incredible Journey* is a donor-funded ministry passionate about communicating our bold vision of sharing the good news of Christ and preparing people for the soon coming of Jesus. We are devoted to giving Biblical answers to life’s questions through television, the Internet, social media, Bible Centre, evangelistic ministry and Christian living and faith-sharing resources.

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Gary Kent is the speaker for *The Incredible Journey* media ministry. He holds a B.A. in Theology, M.A. in Ancient History & Archaeology, and M. in Divinity. He is an archaeologist who has excavated numerous sites throughout Israel and Jordan. As an internationally-acclaimed speaker and TV presenter, he has spoken and produced numerous documentaries on subjects including the Bible, Bible prophecy, world events and natural health. His passion is to share the good news of Jesus’ imminent return.

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