21 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. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means "the place of the skull"). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. 25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27-28 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!" 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
Thoughts: The Christian church was integrated at the very beginning. Simon was from Cyrene in North Africa, and his children were with him, Alexander and Rufus. Perhaps the Romans thought picking Simon to carry the cross was a disgrace, but this clearly wasn't a momentary indignified service for them, but a great honor they remembered the rest of their lives- a life changing experience. How do we know? Alexander and Rufus are mentioned in Romans 16:13 as leaders in the early church. The lesson for us is that the inconvenient interruptions in our life- the trials and crosses- may turn to be life changing experiences for us- for our good.
Prayer: Lord, give me grace to take up your cross daily and willingly.
John Calvin abridged: Christ was taken outside the city in keeping with the Old Testament law that indicated that the atoning sacrifice should be taken outside the camp (Ex. 29:13; Lev. 16:27; Heb. 13:12). Our Lord was offered vinegar and gall before he was placed on the cross (and offered sponge vinegar later- as recorded in John). "Dividing up his clothes"- The Son of Man was stripped of his clothes that we, through his nakedness, might gain eternal clothing (Ps. 22:18). "Third hour" means not the beginning but the end of the third hour. It is probable that Christ did not hang on the cross longer than three hours. "crucified two rebels with him"- Mark says this in reference to Isaiah 53:12 in which Christ is numbered with transgressors. Christ who is eternal justice is ranked with robbers. We see Christ's love for us here. In order to admit us to the holy society of angels, he permitted himself to be classed among the wicked.