Last week Celtic Daily Prayer included a one verse lesson.
But what a verse!
‘As they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus,’ (Luke 23, 26).
Two phrases stand out for me: ‘coming from the country,’ and ‘made him carry it behind Jesus.’
Because: we need to remember that those who make most impact frequently emerge from the shadowlands. Think of Jesus Himself, think of the zany Old Testament prophets such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel. In Christian (as opposed to biblical) history those who make the biggest difference frequently seem to operate from the margins. Francis of Assisi and Mother Theresa are among the most obvious examples. In fact I struggle to think of any institutional initiatives that really make much of a difference; perhaps, you can help me on this one. So, we need to develop 360 degree vision, to see ‘country folk’ serving God, and ultra sensory hearing, so we can hear the prophetic voice coming from where we least expect hear it. Perhaps, we need to shut one eye, and close on ear, to the voice of the metropolitan elite and the institutions that act as a platform for their voice?
This verse also provides an interesting parallel with Jesus’ invitation to potential followers: ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me,’ (Luke 9, 23). Our call is to take up ‘our’ cross on a daily basis. We are able to do so because at Cavalry He was nailed to ‘the‘ cross. Our vocation means we follow from behind, trusting that He is in front of us.
Simon of Cyrene is the first, historical example, of someone emerging from the countryside to take up the cross and follow Jesus.
He is therefore our prototype.
Our challenges are to:
Know what it means to be a country person, to emerge from the shadowlands.
Develop 360 degree vision and ultra sensitive hearing.
Stay behind Jesus knowing that ultimately he bears the full weight of all our crosses.