March 21, 2014

Heroic Minor Characters

Mark 15:21

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


We’ve already read about Simon Peter, the disciple of Jesus who denied Jesus three times. Today’s verses tell us about Simon of Cyrene, who walked behind Jesus as a disciple carrying his cross. Simon of Cyrene became one of the minor heroes in the good-news story of Christ’s suffering.

Simon was compelled by Roman soldiers to carry Jesus’ cross. But our compulsion has to come voluntarily from the Holy Spirit within us. Paul leads the discipleship parade when he declares, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10). We too must follow in the footsteps of Simon and Paul when we commit to live out the call of the gospel. I too am like a seed that must fall into the ground and die to myself (John 12:24). I must take Jesus’ yoke on myself and learn from him (Matthew 11:29). And when I am afflicted, God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). I must deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).

Like Simon, we are outsiders who have an opportunity to re-spond positively to the gospel. Though we are only minor characters on the world’s stage, taking up the cross God has given us is our calling.

Father, show us what it means to take up our cross each day and follow Jesus. Thank you for answering this prayer. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Dean Deppe

Dean Deppe has been a pastor in inner-city, suburban, and rural ­churches. Currently he teaches New Testament theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. His courses include one on the parables of Jesus. He and his wife have four grown children.

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