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Sunday, November 21, 2010

11/21/10 Luke 23:26- 31 Growing Closer by Serving

26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ 31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Thoughts: Jesus began by carrying his own cross (Jn. 19:17).  When he collapsed under its weight the Roman soldiers impressed into service Simon of Cyrene (modern day Tripoli, Lybia). Cyrene had a strong Jewish population (100,000 moved there in the second century B.C.), and Jews from Cyrene were there at Pentecost (Acts 2:10) and Jewish Christians from Cyrene and Cyprus first preached the gospel to non-Jews (Acts 11:20).  Simon is considered by most to be the first African Christian.  Obviously serving Christ, even at the forcible hands of the Romans, drew Simon to Christ.  There is a Cyrenian movement in the United Kingdom and Ireland that seeks to share the burden of those who are needy or homeless.  Perhaps we could learn that as we serve Christ- and seek to share the burdens of others, we will be drawn ever closer to Him.  For as we do things for "the least of these" we do it for Christ.

Prayer:  Lord, give me opportunities to serve you, and open my heart to your presence.

John Calvin abridged:  That Christ was not able to bear his own cross shows the cruelty of his torment and his lamb-like weakness.  The Romans chose an ordinary peasant to help do the detestable work of carrying the cross.  But the evangelists relate his name, his country, and the name of his children.  Thus Simon gained in eminence by the cross.  We too are of no rank or estimation in and of ourselves, but the cross enables us to grow in good reputation.  Luke tells us that there remained a remnant of women weeping, but God used their weakness to condemn the haughtiness of the crowd and those who condemned Christ.  This shows us that even when the wicked and mean-spirited appear to triumph and the aid of the Father appears missing, we are still under the watchful eye of God.  Wickedness will be ended and righteousness triumph.  This also shows what a cruel and important act the cross was that the Holy City, where God placed His sanctuary, was razed to its foundations because of its cruelty to the Son of God. Josephus records the horror of the people at the destruction of Jerusalem confirming Christ's prophecy.  The enemies of Christ were made to feel that they had made war not against a mortal man but by God.

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