Friday, April 10, 2009

Simon of Cyrene

Matthew 27:32 states….As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross while Mark 15:21 tells us…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.

Simon is forced to carry Jesus’ cross at the point just after Jesus has been beaten and flogged by the Roman guards. Simon helps to carry the cross as Jesus is on his way to be crucified.
So, just who is Simon? Reading the Scripture we discover he’s a man, he’s from Cyrene, he was force to carry the cross, he had two sons named Alexander and Rufus, and he just happened to be passing by on his way back to Jerusalem from the country.

Cyrene could make reference to to Cyrene, Libya in northern Africa. Does this mean Simon was a black man? It’s been debated for hundreds of years. One fact that does remain certain is Cyrene was also the name of a section of Jerusalem. A section where thousands of Palestinian Jews had settled during the reign of Ptolemy Soter (323-285 BC).

Some support the argument that Simon was black by arguing that the Roman guards had a dilemma on their hands. They could not carry the cross. That certainly makes sense, doesn’t it? The whole point was to have the person being crucified carry the cross.

Some even argue that the Romans wouldn’t have asked a Jew to carry the cross because it was Passover and simply by carrying the cross he would be defiled and would be unable to participate in Passover. You might ask why the Romans would even care, but they had orders not to interfere with the religious practices of the Jews. If this holds true then Simon could have been a black man….a non-Jew.

The mention of Simon’s sons, Rufus and Alexander, have also caused debate. Many ancient sources claim the two became missionaries. Some even went so far as to include the name Mark to imply Rufus was mentioned by Paul in Romans 16:13…Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Simon has also been linked to the “men of Cyrene” mentioned in Acts 11:20…Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.

While it can be entertaining to argue the point regarding Simon of Cyrene’s ethnicity… does it really matter?

I find the back and forth interesting, but it doesn’t matter either way to me. I prefer to look upon the fact that someone picked up Jesus’ cross and carried it for him to remind me that today I should be about my Father’s business….it’s up to me in 2009 to continue to spread the word and become more Christ-like.

9 comments:

My Daily Devotion said...

nice one. just continue posting very interesting articles. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

May we all be willing to carry His cross!

Anonymous said...

It is important because there stood a white man, a brown man and a black man. Representing the sons of Noach : Sem cham and Jafeth. Christ died for all humanity

Anonymous said...

It is amazing that in 2010 that white people still believe Jesus to be a white man. Sad that you hold on to that thought when everywhere he is described in scripture he is bronze with hair like wool. Never have seen a bronze white man before. The fact that you would believe that Noah would have three children of different ethnic origins is crazy as well. This is again truly sad, the real truth is that you really don't want to admit that blacks were ever present anywhere in scripture-but they were and have always been. I wonder if you get to heaven and I say if and God is not white-what will you do then? Probably opt to go to hell.

Anonymous said...

I have a question. Why do you assume there were no Black Jews? In fact it is very possible that there were, considering the episode of the Etheopean Eunuch in Acts and how Ethiopian Christians considered themselves to be descendants of one of the Jewish tribes. These point to the possibility of Judaism reaching Africa. I think we often think of the Gospel characters in terms of a European background, light skin, colored eyes, which is a misrepresentation of the context in which it all took place. Regardless of this, I like your point, what matters is the message of carrying the cross. Whether Jesus was white, black, bronze or neon green doesn't matter, what matters is that is he the Savior of humanity and we are called to carry our cross and follow him.

Anonymous said...

Its clear that Jesus was Jewish, but he was also black...from the house of David, a king Solomon and Moses decendant whom many years before had lived in Africa and married African princess many years before. The 3 wise men were African, the man whom the Romans chose to help carry the cross (Simon) is also black...and why if Jesus was Jewish and preached the word of God and peace, and did all the miracles, revived the dead, born of a virgin, why did the jewish hierarchy not accept him as the messiah? Because he was black...Why was the virgin made to give birth in a stable? Why did the angel have the virgin and child flee to Egypt (Africa)...on and on and on. That he was made white to be more commercial and sellable especially in the new world during Columbus conquests, ok so be it. But its obvious he was black.

Anonymous said...

i doesnt matter to YOU because ur not black, and feel alienated by the white mans imagine of God. in actually ALL the heros of the bible are really of middle eastern ethnicity but why would they all (as depicted by hollywood) seem at home in germany or norway?

Anonymous said...

I am caucasian and I find it amazing that people still refer to each other by color.I will not reference to judge as I have no right but let me say this I told my Father that he may stand judgement before a man of color.Let me also say that Jesus is my salvation and the savior of the world those concerned with color need to focus on the sacrifice of the lamb!

Anonymous said...

if I would have been back in those days of Jesus when he was needing help carrying the cross I would have been like Simon I would have carried it for him it would have been a honor just to be beside him

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