Saturday, April 07, 2007


What Happens When You Meet Jesus.

Matthew 27:31 When they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the robe, put His clothes on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. 32 As they were going out, they found a Cyrenian man named Simon. They forced this man to carry His cross.
How little these soldiers knew that they were making this man immortal!
This man Simon met the procession somewhere in towards the city. And for an instant He is caught in the attention of the most important event of the Universe! Just for an instaqnt we meet him, and then he disappears nearly forever from our sight.
He was a Cyrenian; that is, he was a Jew by descent, probably born, and certainly resident, for purposes of commerce, in Cyrene, on the North African coast of the Mediterranean.
No doubt he had come up to Jerusalem for the Passover; and like very many of the strangers who flocked to the Holy City for the feast, met some difficulty in finding accommodation in the city, and so was obliged to go to lodge in one of the outlying villages. From this lodging he is coming in, in the morning, knowing nothing about Christ nor His trial, knowing nothing of what he is about to meet, and happens to see the procession as it is passing out of the gate. He is by the centurion impressed to help the fainting Christ to carry the heavy Cross. He probably thought Jesus a common criminal, and would resent the task laid upon him by the rough authority of the officer in command.

Mark 15: 21 They forced a man coming in from the country, who was passing by, to carry Jesus’ cross. He was Simon, a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus.
The mention of these two men by Mark is a thing he would do only if Rufus and Alexander were Christian men well known in the community for whom his gospel was first written.

Clearly something happened that day in Jerusalem that totally changed Simon’s life.
We are informed by John that when He left the judgment hall He was carrying it Himself, as was the custom with criminals under the Roman law. The heavy cross was laid on the shoulder, at the intersection of its arms and stem, one of the arms hanging down in front of the bearer’s body, and the long upright trailing behind. Apparently our Lord’s physical strength, sorely tried by a night of hearings in the High priest’s palace and before Pilate, as well as by the scourging, the beatings and the plucking of His beard, the ripping of his flesh by the whip, the weight of the cross itself became too heavy., ‘They led Jesus out to crucify Him,’ and in the verse after, ‘they bring,’ or bear ‘Him to the place Golgotha,’ as if, when the procession began, they led Him, and before it ended they had to carry Him, His weakness having become such that He Himself could not sustain the weight of His cross. So, with some touch of pity in their hard hearts, or more likely with professional impatience of delay, and eager to get their task over, the soldiers lay hold of this stranger, press him into the service and make him carry the heavy upright, which trailed on the ground behind Jesus.

1. You Can Touch Eternity In A Moment!
Simon apparently knew nothing of Jesus Christ when he was compelled to carry the cross for Him. He would be reluctant to undertake the humiliating task. He would have been sullen and discontented as he plodded along beside Him.
But slowly, bit by bit, his attitude was changed, from sympathy, to surprise, to surrender.
He would have heard the shouting of the crowd, “Crucify Him!”
He would have seen the small poor group of ladies, some stopping them on the way, t wipe His brow, to cry, to weep.
He would have become aware of a bunch of women not far behind, weeping and wailing. "... healed my child." And "...weep for you" and "God save you" and "It's so unfair." “But you are the Messiah” The words Messiah would have lingered upon Simon’s mind. Messiah. The hope for the redemption of Israel. The Messiah, suffering quietly like a lamb before its shearers ..silent..
"Daughters of Jerusalem," he called, " (and there was not a trace of self-pity in his voice) "Shed no tears for me. Shed them for yourselves and your children. The days are coming when they will say: 'Happiest of women are the barren, whose wombs never bore, whose breasts never suckled.' They will call to the mountains, 'Fall on us,' and to the hills, 'Bury us.' If they do these things when the tree is green, what will they do when it is old and dry?"
He was more concerned for their distress than he was for his own.
This couldn’t be the Messiah. Could it?
The stone steps of the Via Delorosa, the way of suffering, would have been stained with Jesus’ blood from the severity of the flogging, and the severity of the beating He had endured. And every now and then someone, a woman, a child would come up amidst the shouts and declare their love, their sorrow and their grief.
The evidence of their faith in Jesus would have made him wonder.. “Who is this Man?”
And as they climbed the hill Golgotha, the Centurion would have pushed Simon on up the hill carrying the cross, and the Saviour a few steps ahead.
He would have felt the soldiers finally take the burden of the cross from off his shoulders. They’d have laid it down, and then, lay down on it Jesus!
Simon would have seen them drive the long wicked nails through his wrists. One soldier would have held his feet, one above the other, while another drove a nail through both.
Simon would have been revolted at the cruelty and the horror of what he had seen. He’d have been amazed at what the prisoner said while they were doing it. Between spasms of pain as the hammer blows fell, he shouted to the heavens above him, "Father" - a spasm of pain - "forgive them" - another blow and another spasm - "they don't know … what they're doing."
That must have been overwhelming. Perhaps it was that sight that touched Simon’s heart.
‘The Messiah! Forgiving those crucifying Him?’ Only One who was above this world could say such a thing! The Messiah?
Simon would have heard the cries of the mob that followed them up that hill outside the city walls of Jerusalem.
The people stood watching, and even the leaders kept scoffing: “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!”
The Messiah? ! The Messiah?
You Can Meet Eternity In A Moment!
They were done at last. They hoisted up the cross with Him on it, and dropped it into place. It fell into the hole they'd dug for it with a sickening thud. It must have dislocated so many bones in the body.
The crowd would have been shocked to silence as they heard that thud. And then in that silence would have begun that slow labored breathing, something never erased from a man’s memory. There's some way they hang the body on the nails through the wrists that constricts the chest so they can only breathe by pushing themselves up on the nail through their feet. That's why they can be finished off by having their legs broken: they can't breathe any more after that, and they suffocate.
Simon would have watched as the rough soldiers gathered Jesus’ clothes into a pile. And then, after crucifying Him they divided His clothes by casting lots. They took His clothes and divided them into four parts, a part for each soldier. They also took the tunic, which was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 24 So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but toss for it, to see who gets it.”
36 Then they sat down and were guarding Him there.
And then, the label. The sign. The charge that was written against Jesus was nailed above His head. 37 Above His head they put up the charge against Him in writing: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS
He claimed to be the Messiah?
Something happened that day in the heart of Simon. Something quite unexpected. He had gone up that hill a Jew. A foreigner no doubt, but a Jew. He came down that hill a Christian, and a Christian before there was such a name.
You Can Meet Eternity In A Moment!
In the early 18th Century William Blake may have written
To see a world in a grain of sand And heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And eternity in an hour.
But it was Simon who experienced it.
A moment… Just a moment.. the whole event of carrying that cross has taken less than an hour. In less than the hour you have been here today you, like Simon can meet Eternity!
It has happened often. It has happened to many. They have come to the church expecting little, to be bored maybe, perhaps to feel a little religious on this day of days, Good Friday!
Perhaps you have come because your mum or dad made you. Perhaps you received something in your mailbox that piqued your interest.
For whatever reason you have come today you have the opportunity to meet Eternity!
Your experience this morning can be life changing! Like Simon you can meet the Messiah, the Christ!

Momentary Meetings Can Have Eternal Endings
What an effect that moment had on Simon’s life. If Simon could stand before you right now, he would tell you that that meeting settled his eternal destiny! It settled where he is right now. He could like a whole world, have ended up in the place of eternal torment. Or he could as he did, wind up in heaven.
What made the difference? For Simon it was discovering that while Simon carried Jesus’ cross, Jesus carried Simon’s sins. ‘The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’
While Simon stood there before that cross, some events amazing and wonderful transpired around him.
He heard the cry of the priests 31 In the same way, the chief priests with the scribes were mocking Him to one another and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself!
He saw 33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.
34 And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
And as he watched,
Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last. 38 Then the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom.
Looking down the hill from Golgotha, rising above the walls of Jerusalem stood the temple built by Herod. Its beautiful walls, its golden doors would catch the sunlight. And the cry rang out from the temple as priests and Levites ran from there in a great commotion “the curtain of the sanctuary is split in two from top to bottom.!”
The curtain of the temple, separating the Holy of Holies from the worshippers, split in two. The curtain that separated the holiness of God from sinners. Split in two.. from top to bottom!
These thoughts must have connected themselves there that moment in Simon’s mind.
Simon would had heard the words of those standing around the cross.
39 When the • centurion, who was standing opposite Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “This man really was God’s Son!”
And the Centurion’s words would have become his!
“Truly this man was the Son of God!”
And so may those words become yours.

2. You can Tackle Adversity with Commitment
Choosing The Saviour Carries A Cost
It is an easy thing to be a disciple, when all the crowd is crying ‘Hosanna !’ It is a much harder thing to be a disciple when the crowd, or even when the influential cultivated opinion of a generation, is crying ‘Crucify Him! crucify Him!’
You must be Christ’s companions when His back is at the wall as well as when men are exalting and honouring Him, that it is your business to confess Him when men deny Him, to stand by Him when men forsake Him, to avow Him when the avowal is likely to bring contempt upon you from some people, and thus, in a very real sense, to bear His Cross after Him. ‘Let us go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach’;

Romans 16: 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother—and mine which means that Paul must have enjoyed the hospitality of her home. Antioch is the only place where that can have happened, for when Paul wrote to Rome he had not yet visited it. Rufus and his mother must have gone there ahead of him.
The murdering and persecuting Saul, who on the Damascus road became Paul the disciple found a home with Simon of Cyrene!
Simon identified himself openly as a Christian in a time when it was not politically correct to do so.

There will be hostility, alienation, a comparative coolness towards you by many people, if you are a true Christian. You will come in for a share of contempt from the wise and the cultivated of this generation, as in all generations. The mud that is thrown after the Master will spatter your faces too, to some extent; and if you are walking with Him you will be, to the extent of your communion with Him, objects of the aversion with which many men regard Him. Stand to your colours. Do not be ashamed of Him in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.

1. Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition,
All I’ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition!
God and heaven are still my own.

2. Let the world despise and leave me,
They have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like them, untrue.
O while Thou dost smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me,
Show Thy face and all is bright.

3. Man may trouble and distress me,
’Twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me;
Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me
While Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

I think of the Cyrenian Who passed the city gate
When the press was pouring forth That bore Thy cruel fate.
I ponder what thoughts Awoke within him that day,
As he bore his unchosen burden Up Calvary’s way.
Yes, Lord, Thou must have looked on Simon, Turn Lord, and look on me,
That I may take up courage And bear Thy cross for Thee.

3. You can Turn Silence Into Testimony When you meet Jesus.

Throughout that day that we saw Simon on Golgotha, did you notice that he never opened his mouth. We hear no word or utterance from his mouth. He is silent. Many spoke the thoughts and secrets of their inmost mind that day. But not Simon. After meeting Jesus that would soon change.

Cooperation With The Saviour Carries A Commission
Acts 13:1 In the local church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger (that is, black, the hot African sun having tanned his countenance, perhaps), Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul

Could this be our Simon… And, look , side by side with him one ‘Lucius of Cyrene,’ It is possible that this may be our Simon, and that he who was the last to join the band of disciples during the Master’s life and learned courage at the Cross was among the first to apprehend the world-wide destination of the Gospel, and to bear it beyond the narrow bounds of his nation.

He needed some one to aid Him to bear His Cross, so in His glory He needs our help to carry out the purposes for which the Cross was borne.
And though He bore Simon the Cyrenian’s sins ‘in His own body on the tree,’ He needed Simon the Cyrenian to help Him to bear the tree, and He needs us to help Him to spread throughout the world the blessed consequences of that Cross and bitter Passion. So to us all is granted the honour, and from us all are required the sacrifice and the service, of helping the suffering Saviour.

4. You can Turn Aggravation Into Bounty
Undoubtedly, being pressed into service to carry the cross must have caused this black man aggravation. But Service for Christ is recompensed by a perpetual memorial. How little Simon knew that ‘wherever in the whole world this gospel was preached, there also, this that he had done should be told for a memorial of him!’ How little he understood when he went back to his rural lodging that night, that he had written his name high up on the tablet of the world’s memory, to be legible for ever.

Yes! dear friends, Christ’s great saying, ‘I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me,’ began to be fulfilled when He began to be lifted up. The centurion, the thief, this man Simon, by looking on the Cross, Met Eternity In A Moment! He discovered that Choosing The Saviour Carries A Cost, and with the cost comes a wonderful, wonderful consequence. The privilege of joining Him in His work/
Take your places there behind Him, near His Cross; gazing upon Him till your hearts melt, and you, too, learn that He is your Lord, and your Saviour, and your God. The Cross of Jesus Christ divides. If there was a penitent, there was an impenitent thief; if there was a convinced centurion, there were gambling soldiers; if there were hearts touched with compassion, there were mockers who took His very agonies and flung them in His face as a refutation of His claims. Contact with the suffering Christ will either bind you to His service, and fill you with His Spirit, or it will harden your hearts, and make you tenfold more selfish — that is to say, ‘tenfold more a child of hell’ — than you were before you saw and heard of that divine meekness of the suffering Christ. Let Him bear yours, and yield to Him your grateful obedience, and then take up your cross daily, and bear the light burden of self-denying service to Him who has borne the heavy load of sin for you and all mankind.

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