The king on the cross

Posted Apr 8, 2021

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Daily Scripture

Note to readers: During Lent Resurrection joins 300 or more other congregations in Kansas City and others in Hong Kong and Ghana in reading the entire gospel of Mark. Take the time to read the whole gospel with us.

To watch a video that covers Mark 15:25-47, click here. (The larger project pre-determined the size of the video segments; hence they do not precisely match the reading assignments.)

Mark 15:21-32

21 Simon, a man from Cyrene, Alexander and Rufus’ father, was coming in from the countryside. They forced him to carry his cross.

22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means Skull Place. 23 They tried to give him wine mixed with myrrh, but he didn’t take it. 24 They crucified him. They divided up his clothes, drawing lots for them to determine who would take what. 25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The notice of the formal charge against him was written, “The king of the Jews.” 27 They crucified two outlaws with him, one on his right and one on his left. [15:28 is omitted in most critical editions of the Greek New Testament: The scripture was fulfilled, which says, He was numbered among criminals.]

29 People walking by insulted him, shaking their heads and saying, “Ha! So you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, were you? 30 Save yourself and come down from that cross!”

31 In the same way, the chief priests were making fun of him among themselves, together with the legal experts. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross. Then we’ll see and believe.” Even those who had been crucified with Jesus insulted him.

Reflection Questions

Jesus' enemies had stalked him for most of three years. As he hung on the cross, their ugly glee eerily mirrored Psalm 22:7-8. Without meaning to, they “preached” a spiritual truth: “He saved others, but he can't save himself!” Simon had likely traveled from Cyrene for the Passover feast in Jerusalem. The law let Roman soldiers force anyone they met to carry things for them. Since Jesus couldn’t carry his cross, they drafted Simon to do it.

  • In their moment of seeming triumph, Jesus' enemies chose an odd criticism. They admitted he’d saved others (which a bad man couldn’t have done). They mocked him for not saving himself. They couldn’t imagine having power, and not using it for your own benefit. When have hatred, fear or other emotions clouded your power to see a situation (or your own words and actions) clearly?
  • Mark said Simon was “Alexander and Rufus’ father.” Alexander and Rufus? Acts 13:1 named an Antioch Christian: “Simeon (a Hebrew name) called Niger (‘black’) who was presumably… African, and just conceivably none other than Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross for Jesus and who must have become a believer, since his sons Alexander and Rufus were known to the Christian community (Mark 15:21 and perhaps Romans 16:13).”* What seeming chance events (even unwelcome ones) has God used to make your life better?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, it appears that on that dreadful day you saved Simon, the innocent bystander forced to carry your cross. And you chose to save me rather than yourself. I offer you my heart in gratitude. Amen.


* John Stott, The Message of Acts. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990, p. 217.

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Lindsey Arnold Seevers

Lindsey Arnold Seevers

Lindsey is part of the Missions team at Church of the Resurrection. She is working on her M.Div. at Claremont School of Theology. Her favorite Bible story comes from John 21, because she will never turn down a brunch invite… especially not from Jesus.

Oh, Simon of Cyrene, I have so many questions…

When you woke up that morning, did you expect a divine interruption?

Were you there because you were curious to catch a glimpse of this man who had been condemned to die? Had you heard about the life-changing miracles and radical love that flowed from Jesus’ ministry and wanted to witness his power? Or were you simply stuck in traffic?

As you stood there on the street, you bore witness to a parade of bloody, life-ending injustice. Then you were forced by the empire to participate in the violence.

But you did not stop to ask, “What did this man do to deserve this? What bad choices did he make? Why didn’t he just keep his head down and get a real job?” You did not insist on judging for yourself whether Jesus’ suffering should be alleviated, you simply bent down and picked up the heavy beam.

This holy interruption, this unexpected opportunity to help Christ, was so powerful that even your family was transformed.

I question myself too, Simon. When I see someone weighed down by the cross of injustice, shouldering an almost unbearable burden, will I be compelled by the incarnated love of Christ and your example to lighten the load however I can?

What will I do when the moment of holy interruption is not as simple or as easy as I would like it to be?

Did you have any idea?

And can you loan me even a sliver of your strength?

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