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Scriptural Stations of the Cross: Station 8

February 19, 2013

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Simon of Cyrene is forced to carry the cross.

Jerusalem may have been one of the minor provinces of the Roman Empire, but it was not an isolated backwater.  Visitors to Jerusalem came from all over the Mediterranean, from scattered colonies of Jews in North Africa, Asia, Rome, and other places—from ”every nation under heaven” the book of Acts says.

One of those visitors came from Cyrene, in present-day Libya.  Simon of Cyrene was in the crowd as Jesus passed by, carrying his cross.  Jesus had been beaten and whipped—it is likely that he was stumbling badly under his burden.  The Roman soldiers were unwilling to assist so they singled out Simon, and forced him to pick up the cross.

We know little about Simon other than his name and where he came from—but we do know that he had two sons, Alexander and Rufus.  Does that mean that the Christian community of the time knew him?  We can’t be sure but it is possible.

Today, Jerusalem still attracts people from all over the world.  Pilgrims come from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America—indeed every nation under heaven.  Jews come to visit and to live, taking up the citizenship there that is their right.  Its economy also draws those who hope for better things.

One of the real struggles in Israel now is between some of these groups.  Some of the legal and illegal immigrants from Africa have met hostility.  Many of those who define themselves as orthodox Jews speak against the discrimination against them.  Israeli Arabs see themselves as second-class citizens, and Palestinians resent that they live under a law not applied to Israelis.

One of the glorious promises that God made to Abraham was that he and his descendants would be a light to the nations—a light to the world.  Pray that this glory may be fulfilled in full, for all of those who live in and journey to Jerusalem .

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

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