26 As they led Jesus away, a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, happened to be coming in from the countryside. The soldiers seized him and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.
To travel to Jerusalem for Passover was the desire of every Jew who lived outside of Judea. And their dedication was evidenced by the distance they traveled to get there. The city of Cyrene was an ancient Greek colony, located on the northeastern coast of present-day Libya, about 900 miles from Jerusalem, and those who made the journey most like made it only a handful of times in their life.
Travel from Cyrene to Jerusalem took a month or more, and was potentially dangerous. So for Simon of Cyrene and others, seeing the city walls coming into view offered relief and a sense of accomplishment.
A Roman soldier pulled him from the crowd, ordering him to carry the cross. Simon must have been mortified. He knew that to carry it would render him unclean, and thus unfit to eat the Passover meal. All those miles he had traveled would have been in vain. Surely anger and fear stirred within him. Anger over a Roman’s authority to ask him to do such a thing, and fear of what would be done to him if he refused to obey. Serving Jesus requires following Him and getting our hands dirty. Jesus said being His disciple would involve denying self taking up our cross daily and following Him (Luke 9:23). We can carry many different kinds of burdens many self inflicted but the ones we carry in the service to the Lord are ones of joy. What burdens are you carrying? Are there things you need to lay down so you can carry your cross? Simon was seized and forced to carry Christ’s cross if you had been there would they have had to force you? How about today are you serving, taking up your cross and following Jesus willingly or because you have to? Simon missed the Passover but not the Savior. What a privilage it would have been to carry the cross for Jesus that day it still is, He is passing by would you pick up your cross and follow?