Simon of Cyrene Carries the Cross

Who is this helping Jesus? That’s not one of Jesus’ family members, nor a disciple, nor someone he has recently healed. It’s Simon. In the black church tradition he is known as Black Simon because he is from Cyrene, a Roman city in North Africa now known as Shahat, Libya. This is important because he probably never knew Jesus, or even knew about him. Mark 15:21 says Simon was just passing by and was forced to help Jesus out. Whether he was forced or not, Simon was the only person to help Jesus in his time of need.

How often have I heard Christians or Christian churches refuse help from someone because they weren’t sure they were Christian? How often have I heard the church refuse to serve someone or let someone provide their gifts to the church because, in the minds of the Christians, the person was “living in sin,” doing something they deemed to be against God? Even more to the point, how often have I heard of Christians and Churches offering to help a community as long as they can preach to them and try to convert them?

I think Simon carrying Jesus cross is very important. Jesus didn’t interrogate Simon, he didn’t question his ethics, interrogate his faith or investigate his tradition. Jesus was in a state of emergency. He needed help and a man who knew nothing about Jesus provided it. Simon didn’t have a choice either. He was forced to help Jesus. But there they were. Two men who didn’t know each other forever tied together by the cross.

Jesus could have taken that moment to evangelize to Simon through his pain. He could have tried to “save” someone in his last moments. But he didn’t. So why do we feel like it is our duty as Christians to convert people either before we help them or use our works as a means of conversion? Why can’t we just help people out when in need because that is what our faith requires of us?

This might be a stretch but it’s a question that’s been on my mind lately.





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