March 22, 2020   Fourth Sunday in Lent

Scripture:   Mark 15:20-22     

And when they had mocked him,

    they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him.  

                                                       Then they led him out to crucify him.                                          

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus,    

was passing by on his way in from the country,

and they forced him to  carry the cross.

They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha

(which means “the place of the skull”).

 

Pray for Illumination – Open our eyes and ears to see you anew Lord Jesus. Amen

 

Meditation      ” Walking to the Cross with Jesus and Simon of Cyrene”

1.This is a short little passage that describes a very long journey.

  • Jesus had been thinking about this walk to the cross for a long time

Matthew 20 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

The disciples did not understand this statement.  Jesus understood it fully.

  • Jesus saw this path to death as he came into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday.  The crowds waving and cheering could not hide the stones Jesus would soon walk upon with bloody feet in just five days.
  1. We remember the stages to this last walk for Jesus.
  • Jesus celebrated his Last Supper with his disciples the night before
  • Later that night the went to the garden to pray, Jesus prayed, the disciples slept.
  • Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night by a crowd of soldiers and priests.
  • Jesus was dragged before four different people, Annas, Caiaphas and the ruling elders, Pilate, and Herod. They and yelling mob concluded Jesus must die.
  • Jesus was mocked, whipped, crowned with thorns, and led him through the city streets to the place we would die.
  1. This was the longest mile.
  • Some runners say the last mile is the longest. Jesus would quote the beginning of Psalm 22, this prayer, from the cross, “Eli, Eli,lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
  • Portions of that psalm, that familiar hymn, must have been echoing in the mind of Jesus.
    • 1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
      Why are you so far from saving me,
          so far from my cries of anguish?
    • But I am a worm and not a man,
      scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
      All who see me mock me;
          they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
  1. Jesus needed help.
  • Yes, Jesus needed help…just like you and me.
    • He had been up and under great stress for hours.
    • He was severely beaten and exhausted.
    • He had open wounds across his head, back, and sides
    • He was losing blood with each step.
  • Simon of Cyrene was drafted to help Jesus.
    • Cyrene is in North Africa, 783 miles from Jerusalem, a month’s journey.
    • There were Jews from all over the known world who made this pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover celebration.
    • Cyrene was probably there with his family on his way to the Temple.
    • Can you imagine being grabbed by the collar and thrust into helping a bloody, condemned man?!
    • Application: Have you ever been thrust into a situation you did not want?
      • Welcome to COVID-19!
      • We are in shutdown and isolation
      • All the plans we had for the next few weeks and maybe months are up in the air or out the window.
      • We have lost control in way most of us have never experienced before.
      • What are we to do? Let’s walk in the shoes of Simeon of Cyrene and find out.
  1. Jesus and Simon take a walk together.
  • Simon helped Jesus finish his work on Earth
    • Simon reached down and picked up the cross beam of the cross and lifted it and Jesus up. They then walked together. Step by step they made their way to the cross.
    • Simon experienced all the shouting, curses, spitting directed at Jesus. He also saw all the quiet, tearful people in shock of what was happening to their Lord.
    • Simon hear every word from the mouth of Jesus as he encountered people along the way. In Luke 23:28  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!’
  • Jesus helped Simon begin his work on Earth.
    • Simon had come to Jerusalem to worship and offer sacrifices to God. He ended up walking with the Son of God who was the lamb who came to take away the sins of world.
    • Few people were allowed to enter the Temple’s Holy of Holies. Simon, by walking with and suffering with Jesus, entered into the presence of the most holy One.
    • We no record of what conversation occurred between Simon and Jesus. We do know that Simon and family were transformed by this encounter. The names of his sons we mentioned in our passage, Alexander and Rufus.  References in the book of Acts and Romans lead us to believe the whole family encountered the living God.
  1. Jesus invites you and me to walk with him in the way of suffering today.
  • We read the newspapers and see the television accounts of suffering. As we absorb the unfolding news, let engage in prayer for those in need:
    • Frontline medical and security workers – ambulance drivers, nurses, and doctors, risking their lives to keep society together
    • Those on the edges, the marginalized, people in prisons, the homeless
    • Leaders and those with authority and resources to help would move to compassionate and strategic action.
  • Our prayer is that this experience will force our attention outwards to the suffering of the most vulnerable.
    • Love always means going beyond yourself to otherness.
    • Growing in love means walking with Jesus in the suffering of others.

Prayer:  Gentle, wounded, and now resurrected Jesus the Christ, allow me to walk where you go today…into the land of suffering to offer hope. In Christ, Amen.

Hymn What Wondrous Love is This  (copyright – Public Domain)

1 What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,

what wondrous love is this, O my soul!

What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss

to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,

to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!

 

2 When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,

when I was sinking down, sinking down;

when I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,

Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,

Christ laid aside his crown for my soul!

 

3 To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing,

to God and to the Lamb, I will sing;

to God and to the Lamb, who is the great I AM,

while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,

while millions join the theme, I will sing!

 

4 And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,

and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on;

and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be,

and through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,

and through eternity I’ll sing on!