"This man, Simon of Cyrene, they pressed into service to carry the cross." Matthew 27:32
I learned something very interesting in our recollection yesterday. Most of us know that Simon of Cyrene was forced to help Jesus carry the heavy patibulum or crossbeam. It usually deserves just a short mention, easily forgotten, but if we read Mark 15:21, we will realize that perhaps it was a life changing event in Simon's life. If I was Simon, if I was so close to Jesus, I would have tried to talk to Him. I would have tried to understand why this man with the compassionate eyes and the mouth unhardened by the harsh punishment was on His way to the most excruciating torture. And after it all, when I leave this man Jesus, I would try to find out more about Him, and I would hear of the miracles, and His parables. I would hunger and thirst for more stories, and I would keep repeating this to my children. They would grow up hearing about Jesus and how I was able to carry a little bit of His burden for a short time.
In Mark 15:21, we read that Simon was not only from Cyrene, but he was the father of Rufus and Alexander. Why did Mark insert that little detail into his story? After Mark travelled with Paul the Apostle, he settled in Rome to write down Peter's recollections of Jesus' life. It is an eyewitness account of what Peter could remember. Most of the time, people in Peter's stories are unnamed, a blind man, a man possessed, even his own mother-in-law! But Rufus and Alexander were mentioned! Many scholars posit that Rufus and Alexander were known to the young Christian community, because they were Christians, they were members, maybe even leaders!
Perhaps at the start we were forced to attend church, a prayer meeting, or some service for God. But when we do it, and try to get to know the Lord of the service, our lives are never the same, and we will be able to reach others and influence them, as Simon did.