Thursday, August 16th. Mark 15:21-24

They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take. Mark 15:21-24


What happens when we bump into Jesus?


Simon of Cyrene had no idea what the day would hold when he got out of bed that morning.  He thought he would be going into the city to celebrate Passover.  He thought he would sing the old prayers, offer the appropriate sacrifices, “get right with God” in the traditional ways, and maybe even spend time with some old friends.


He saw the commotion, the crowds lining the narrow passageway.  He saw the parade.  Maybe he heard a gruff voice call out, “Hey you!”  And then the next thing he knew, he was carrying the crossbar of a crucifixion.  No longer the audience, he had become an actor on the Via Dolorosa.


The Via Dolorosa is little more than a narrow passageway winding its way through the Old City of Jerusalem from the Roman garrison to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  It is the traditional path marking the journey to the cross.  Today it is lined with shops, stores, apartments, occasionally opening into larger squares at the intersections and always full of crowds of tourists.


Along the way, nine stations of the cross tell the story of Jesus as he made his way to the place of crucifixion.  The fifth station remembers Simon of Cyrene. Five final stations lie within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a huge cathedral with many chapels, including the traditional sites of the cross and the tomb.


One of the great ironies of this place is the Christian in-fighting that has always marked the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  Because the various Christian sects who laid claim to sites within the church couldn’t get along, the Arab conqueror Saladin entrusted the key to the Muslim Nuseibeh and Joudeh families.  For over 800 years, a Muslim opens the church door at dawn and locks it again at 8:00 pm.


Amazing, isn’t it?  Given all the anger, the division, and war, between Christians, Jews, and Muslims through the years, right there at the epicenter of the Christian faith, in a Jewish City, a Muslim opens the doors every day.  They co-exist in peace.  The lion lies down with the lamb.


And yet we continue to seek Jesus in the wood and rocks of relics and churches – and fail to see him in the pilgrims.


What happens when you bump into Jesus?  You never know…but it might involve carrying a cross that you didn’t see coming.


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, as Moses lifted up the snake high in the wilderness, that all who looked upon it might live, so too we see you lifted up high for all to see.  In the pain and horror of your death, may we see the path that leads to life and may your love support us along the way.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


One Response to “Thursday, August 16th. Mark 15:21-24”

  1. Richard Says:

    WOW! This week’s devotions have been so powerful! So easy to connect with, to understand where Jesus was mentally, where the Romans were, where Simon of Cyrene was, where we are. So lost and yet Jesus has the answer! You teach so well, with so much insight into the specifics of each bibical event! Thanks for sharing with us these powerful messages!

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