And when they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and laid on him the cross, to bear it after Jesus. ~ Luke 23:26
In life, we don’t get to choose our cross.
Most often, it is thrust upon us by the world. In the crucifixion account, the man from Cyrene was pulled from the crowd of onlookers and given the job of carrying Jesus’ cross. It does not say that he volunteered. He was likely chosen because he was the man standing closest to Jesus.
We find in life that the cross we’re compelled to carry is often the last thing we would choose. Yet it’s in carrying that very cross that we gain the greatest eternal good. Its weight is measured in exact proportion to our strength. Its size keeps us fastened to Jesus as he holds one end, and we hold the other. While it may bring us calamity, it reminds us that we are walking together with Jesus in our walk of pain.
The beautiful truth is that, though we carry the cross, we will never hang on it – that burden was Christ's alone.
He understands pain.
In bearing our punishment, Jesus suffered pain and despair that we can never conceive. When Jesus became sin for us, He suffered the deepest agony ever experienced by any creature in all of eternity. He was brought lower than any man – as every power opposed to God struck him with every last weapon in their terrifying arsenal.
The utter despair he felt was described as his heart melting within Him – abandoned by His Father, forsaken by His friends. A pain that even outweighed the cruel nails and howling ridicule of the throngs who mocked Him.
Because of that pain, he understands what it feels like to suffer the most profound depression imaginable. He was brought lower than any of us so that we could know that He is touched by the feeling of our suffering. He is fit to be our faithful High Priest because there is no depth of earthly pain that He doesn’t intimately understand.
When we’re given a cross to carry, it’s with the assurance that He carries it with us. He understands precisely what is being asked of us, and he shares a deep and profound understanding of our pain.
Jesus didn’t stay on the cross...
He was not destroyed by it. The last words he uttered on the cross were not the faint whisper of a man’s dying breath ebbing away – they were a shout! Luke tells us that He cried out with a loud voice!
It was a cry of victory over His suffering. It was a declaration that His life was not being taken from him, but he was laying it down himself – because He had power to lay it down and power to take it up again!
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. ~James 1:12 NIV