26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then
“‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
and to the hills, “Cover us!”’
31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father,forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:26-43
I think we have all experienced being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting into situations we would have preferred to avoid. Luke 23:26 says it this way, “As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.”
Jesus has been beaten into exhaustion. As he is marched through the narrow streets of Jerusalem, it becomes obvious that he can’t carry the cross. Just at that moment, Simon and his sons (Mark tells us the boys were Rufus and Alexander) happen to be arriving from the country. It seems that Simon has brought his sons from northern Africa to attend Passover in Jerusalem. And he gets caught in the wrong place at the wrong time…or so he thinks.
He carries the cross for Jesus.
Simon may have seen Jesus hung on the cross. He may have heard the conversation between the criminals and Jesus saying, “Today you’ll be with me in paradise.” He may have heard Jesus say, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” And Simon was changed.
Simon came as a good Jew for a pilgrimage to the Temple and was changed forever—at least this is what church tradition tells us. Wrong place, wrong time? Sometimes it may seem that way, but not on this day. Simon witnessed a death and, just maybe, was in Jerusalem when a rumor spread that “he who died now lives.” The world turned upside down.
For your reflection: How do you respond to those “wrong” moments? Have you seen God’s hand on you in those times?
Dear God, in unexpected ways you touch our lives. Let us be open to your direction and recognize that you are working in and through our lives today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.