Wednesday 24th August 2016 - Daily Reading:
Mark 15 - Simon of Cyrene

Many people in life make a bucket list, perhaps you have made one for yourself. A bucket list is basically a list of things that people want to do before they die. It may include a skydive, a bungee jump, swimming with dolphins... it could be anything I guess. Here in Mark 15, we are introduced to a man named Simon of Cyrene. He is the man who was picked from the side to help Jesus to carry his cross when he was unable to do so any longer.

Due to the fact we only see Simon of Cyrene in one verse, it is difficult to know too much about him. However, we do know he was from Cyrene, and there was a good chance at this time he was fulfilling his number one thing on his bucket list... visiting Jerusalem during the time of Passover.

I can imagine he had dreamt about this once in a lifetime moment his whole life! Cyrene was situated approximately 700+ miles from Jerusalem, so it was a once in a lifetime trip. No doubt growing up, Simon and his family had celebrated the Passover each year, heard all the stories of all that God had done for the Israelites, and longed for the year he could make the trip to Jerusalem, and to the temple itself for the Passover. And now... this was the time!

However, I imagine when he arrived in Jerusalem, things weren't as he expected them to be. He would have arrived and found there were crowds and crowds of people gathered, watching on as a man was being led through the streets, absolutely battered, and blood everywhere. There would have been mixed emotions in the crowd. Some would have been scared, others anxious, and from others the cry of 'crucify him'. I wonder how Simon of Cyrene would have felt to find this on his arrival into Jerusalem, his once in a lifetime trip? But it didn't end there for him! Caught up by the crowd and the noise, he went himself to see what it was that was going. He found himself really close to the guy being flogged in the street, carrying the cross... and then all of a sudden a soldier grabbed Simon from the crowd, pushed him towards the battered and beaten man, and ordered him to carry the cross. You can guarantee, the amount of blood coming from the man that Simon would have got his blood on him. WHAT A COMPLETE DISASTER FOR SIMON!! He had made this 700 mile round trip, this once in a lifetime opportunity, and it was nothing he had expected on arrival! And now, he has been picked from a crowd to carry the cross and got the man's blood on him. HE WAS UNCLEAN! He was now unable to enter the temple! The trip was ruined!

The cross of Jesus had cost Simon of Cyrene everything! It had cost him his ambitions, hopes and plans! However, without being aware at the time, this was the best thing for Simon of Cyrene. Jesus had spoken often to his disciples and others that they would need to pick up their daily crosses and follow him. He had also made it clear to them that it would come at a cost. It may cost them their ambitions, hopes and plans.

Let me ask this morning: what are your ambitions, hopes and plans? And more importantly, are they stopping you from picking up your daily cross and following Jesus?

We sing the song at church: "all of my ambitions, hopes and plans; I surrender these into your hands." Are we surrendering these things to Jesus and taking up our daily cross to follow Jesus? Let me encourage you to do so!

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