Note from Jesus
The verses below give you some of the details about the horrendous way I was treated during My journey to Golgotha. You see hatred in action. You see a mob that had been manipulated into a frenzy. You see the people in that mob lose their ability to think clearly and act fairly. You also see people in abject sorrow, "shrieking and wailing in grief." In addition, pay attention to My ominous words of warning at the end of these events.
I also want you to notice one small touch of grace in the horrific circumstances that I faced. This touch of grace shows up in the midst of an awful, violent, and out-of-control set of brutalities. These brutalities were fueled by the hate and fear of religious leaders determined to kill Me.
What is that touch of grace?
Simon of Cyrene is chosen to help Me carry My cross to Golgotha. This touch of grace came after a night of no sleep, unceasing ridicule, bitter mockery, being slapped, being spit upon, being beaten, being scourged, being paraded before leaders, being rejected by the mob, and being sentenced to death by Pilate. I had to carry My cross to the place of My execution, but I was exhausted and physically weak. So I was given someone to help Me by carrying My cross. I had been forsaken by My closest followers. Judas betrayed Me. Peter denied Me. The rest abandoned Me. In the end, I was given someone to help Me carry My cross the last part of the way to Golgotha.
Out of this well of deep misery inflicted upon Me, I was given the grace of someone to help Me carry My burden.
Over the years, My disciples in different parts of the world have seen Simon as a reminder of how important it is to lift the burden of those who are dying. Others have seen Simon as a great image of someone who picks up his cross and helps Me in My mission. Who is someone that needs you to help carry his or her burdens?
Verses to Live
You are about to read about the ridicule I faced and the scorn I bore on the way to the cross. This disrespect was part of the price I paid to communicate the Father's love to you. I hope you will be moved to choose to honor Me and Simon, who helped Me by carrying My cross. I want you to commit to carrying My cross. You can do this by joining Me in My mission to reach the hearts of unbelievers. One possible way to do that is to help ease the burden of someone who is dying. In the horror of what happens in life, may you be Simon to someone who needs help with life's burdens!
So the whole council [the Sanhedrin] got up and took Jesus to Pilate. They brought accusations against Him.
We have observed this man leading our nation astray. He even forbade us to pay our taxes to Caesar. He claims to be the Anointed One and a King Himself.Pilate:
Are You the King of the Jews?Jesus:
It's as you say.Pilate (to the chief priest and crowd):
I find this man guilty of no crime.Sanhedrin (growing more intense):
He has been stirring up discontent among the people all over Judea. He started up in Galilee, and now He's brought His brand of trouble all the way to Jerusalem!Pilate:
Just a minute. Is this man a Galilean?When Pilate learned that Jesus was indeed Galilean — which meant He was officially under Herod's jurisdiction — Pilate sent Him over to Herod, who was currently in Jerusalem. Herod was fascinated to meet Jesus for he had heard about Him for a long time. He was hoping he might be treated to a miracle or two. He interrogated Jesus for quite a while, but Jesus remained silent, refusing to answer his questions. Meanwhile, the chief priests and religious scholars had plenty to say — angrily hurling accusations at Jesus.
Eventually, Herod and his soldiers began to insult Jesus, mocking and degrading Him. They put expensive clothing on Him and sent Him back to Pilate. This ended a long-standing rift between Herod and Pilate; they became friends from that day forward.
Pilate assembled the chief priests and other Jewish authorities.
You presented this man to me as a rabble-rouser, but I examined Him in your presence and found Him not guilty of the charges you have leveled against Him. Herod also examined Him and released Him to my custody. So He hasn't done anything deserving the death penalty. I'll see to it that He is properly whipped and then let Him go.It was the custom for Pilate to set one prisoner free during the holiday festivities.
Crowd (all shouting at once):
Away with this man! Free Barabbas instead!Barabbas had been imprisoned after being convicted of an insurrection he had led in Jerusalem. He had also committed murder. Pilate argued with them, wishing he could release Jesus, but they wouldn't be silenced.
Crucify Him! Crucify Him!Pilate (countering a third time):
Why? What has He done that is so evil? I have found in Him no offense worthy of capital punishment. As I said, I will punish Him and then release Him.But they would not relent. They shouted louder and louder that He should be crucified, and eventually Pilate capitulated. So he pronounced the punishment they demanded.
He released the rebel and murderer Barabbas — the insurrectionist they had pleaded for in His place — and he handed Jesus over to them to do with as they desired.
On the way to the place of crucifixion, they pulled a man from the crowd — his name was Simon of Cyrene, a person from the countryside who happened to be entering the city at that moment. They put Jesus' cross on Simon's shoulders, and he followed behind Jesus. Along with Him was a huge crowd of common people, including many women shrieking and wailing in grief.
Jesus (to the people in the crowd):
Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me. Weep instead for yourselves and weep for your children. Days are coming when people will say, "Blessed are the infertile; blessed are the wombs that never bore a child; blessed are the breasts that never nursed an infant." People will beg the mountains, "Surround us!" They'll plead with the hills, "Cover us!" For if they treat Me like this when I'm like green unseasoned wood, what will they do to a nation that's ready to burn like seasoned firewood.(Luke 23:1-31)
Response in Prayer
O Father, please use me to be a Simon to someone in need. In Jesus' name and in memory of Jesus' sacrifice, I pray to be used for Jesus' glory and to share Jesus' grace with those who do not yet know Him. Amen.