A few months ago, before Christmas, I woke up and heard “Simon of Cyrene”. I went and read the short account of what had happened to him. Usually this means the Lord wants to show me something. Next, I felt the Lord wanted me to watch The Passion of the Christ. I hadn’t watched this movie since I had seen it in the movie theater when it was first released. We had bought the movie when it was released, but I had not watched it. The part that interested me was when Simon of Cyrene was pressed into service by the Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry the Cross. When I have watched this part in other movies it shows Simon and Jesus carrying the cross together. When I read the account in Luke it specifies that, “When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus.” (Luke 23:26 NASB) The Greek word “pherin” for carry or bear is found only in Luke 23:26 (seen above) and in John 15:4. Here is John 15:4:
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. (NASB)
The Cross can signify a multiplicity of spiritual meanings. What the Lord was showing me this time is that the cross that Simon carried signified the law. See in the Roman Empire the law required that those that did not follow the Roman law would and could be crucified. The Jewish high priests had to take their case to the Romans because the Jewish law also required death to those that blasphemed God and the Jews were under Roman rule during this time.
With the instrument that signified the law, Simon carried the cross following behind Jesus. Simon carries the cross following Jesus and they get to Golgotha where Simon puts the cross down as the soldiers require him to. Jesus completely embraces the cross. He lays His body of His own free will on top of the cross, He is nailed to it and bleeds on and into it and then the cross is raised up. Do you see how Jesus covers the law with Himself and is the perfect sacrifice that both fulfills and covers the law.
What I believe happened to Simon is that he truly realized that outside of Jesus he could not carry or bear or do what was being required of him to do. I believe that as Simon carried the cross behind Jesus and as Simon kept his eyes on Jesus and Simon found he could truly do ALL things through Him(Jesus) who strengthens him. I also believe that Simon may have been both Jewish and Gentile, signifying that all peoples were redeemed.
People are wanting to know themselves, “find themselves”, or fix themselves; but we must go to the One who made us for this to occur. We try to find out who we are by being introspective of ourselves either apart or with Jesus and that doesn’t work. We did not create ourselves, He did and so looking to Him we truly find ourselves. This is why He talks about the vessel is not the Creator of itself, but the Potter is. The vessel in no way could ever create itself and really has no way of knowing what it is meant for. But the Potter the One who created it definitely does and will relay what each vessel was created, specified and made for. (Romans 9:20-21). That is how we die to ourselves to live. To die to ourselves means our eyes are completely focused on Him, not at all on ourselves. By looking at Him, as Simon did and focusing on Him you will naturally become like Him. This is called process content learning (Teaching Redemptively by Donovan L. Graham). Process content learning (which involves the emotions and well-being of a person) means that a person experiences what they learn rather than just verbal learning (which only involves the cerebral part of the person). The process content way of learning, not the verbal learning, is what we actually walk out in our lives and forms the choices we make. So, Simon walked focused on Jesus and he did not feel the burden, he was not focused on himself. As Simon focused on Jesus and walked he learned something with his whole being, because it was process content learning for Simon that day. Simon had not memorized scripture ( a form of verbal learning) and he realized ALL that Jesus did for him that day (process learning, an experience of watching and walking). Also: I am not saying memorizing scripture is bad, I am making a difference in how we learn-Verbal vs Process. What Simon did involved all of himself, it was a process that imprinted the truth of Jesus and Who He is, to Simon that day. This process content learning of looking at Jesus applies to the scripture above from John 15:4. Abiding in Him causes us to process learn and what we process learn becomes our controlling beliefs or core values and it is how we walk out our life- we naturally, without effort, become more and more like Him as we walk in the grace gift He freely gave and know that we can ALWAYS come to Him no matter what (see previous blogs about The Cave and Letting Go of the Law). Abiding in Him is not because you haven’t sinned it is because that is where Jesus has put us that have chosen Him as our Lord and Savior. Even when we have sinned as a believer we still abide in Him because: “…we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from ALL sin.” (1 John 1:7 NASB) We walk in the Light, Jesus, by faith-believing that Jesus is your Lord and Savior. Then we are: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB)
Here is the example the Holy Spirit showed me:
Have you ever noticed after spending a lot of time with someone, it could be a husband, wife, parent, sibling, friend? You may not even notice it, but others do. You have probably noticed when siblings, family or friends get together and their actions, looks, sometimes laughs are the same. They have simply lived life together for a while and have picked up one another’s mannerisms. Well, that is what it is like when we abide, when we keep our eyes focused on Jesus and off of ourselves. This is what it means to die to ourselves and naturally bear fruit in Jesus. There is no striving it comes naturally.
We are to focus on Jesus. His body and blood covered the law, took all our shame, bore all our sickness and disease, He that knew no sin became sin on our behalf. He brought us back into the covenant of grace as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been. Where by faith in Jesus we are made righteous before God, are seated in heavenly places, and nothing can separate us from the Love of God. So, keep your eyes on Jesus and you, the vessel, will naturally do, as you process learn with Jesus and grow in grace, what God has created you for.