Today's verses are Mark 15:21,22: "And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). Jesus was forced by the Romans to carry his own cross. According to Jewish and Roman law, he had to be crucified outside the gates of the city. The place where he'd be executed was called Golgotha. It was most likely a hill that resembled a skull in its shape. This public execution was intended to be a deterrent to anyone who might even think about rebellion against Rome.
While on the road to Golgotha, it must have become impossible for Jesus to continue to carry the cross. He had been severely weakened from the Roman scourging. The 39 lashes had caused him to lose much blood. The cross itself probably weighed somewhere between 3- to 40 pounds. His back had open wounds, perhaps his internal organs had been severely damaged. He was unable to continue to carry the cross.
Therefore, a man named Simon from Cyrene, a region in North Africa, was conscripted by the Romans to carry Jesus' cross the rest of the way. He was most likely a faithful Jew who had come to Jerusalem from North Africa to worship God during the Passover. He is most likely a man with a darker skin hue because of his nation of origin. God was beginning to form his church, a place where all ethnicity, every tribe, every nationality would gather together as one people under his Lordship.
Mark actually mentions Simon's two sons by name, Alexander and Rufus. I believe these two men became active in the early church. Was the Rufus to whom Mark refers here the same Rufus to whom Paul refers in Romans 16:13, a man who was very active in the Roman church? Moreover, could the Simeon of Niger (which means "black") in Acts 13:1, one of the heads of the Antioch church, be this Simon of Cyrene?
Could it be that Simon of Cyrene surveyed the wondrous cross on which the prince of glory died and believed he was the Son of God? Did he later meet the other disciples and help form the early church? Did he bring his two sons to faith, Rufus and Alexander, disciple them and they also became leaders in the early church? Why else would Mark mention all three by name? It's as if he's saying to the world when he wrote this Gospel, "These three men are still living. I'm giving you their names. If you don't believe this story, go talk to them. They are well-known in the early church. You can easily find them. They will verify everything I'm saying."
If this is true, Simon is a beautiful example of what a father should be. He is an example of a man who fell in love with Jesus, decided to follow him, and wanted to make sure his sons made this same decision. He knew that the decision to follow Jesus was his sons' most important decision. Together, they all served Jesus in the early church and helped make it what it is today!
The Romans conscripted Simon to carry Jesus' cross. At first, it may have seemed like the worst day of his life. Eventually, it became the best day of his life. On that day, he met his Lord and Savior. His life was forever changed. His eternity was forever changed. His sons' lives were forever changed.
On that day, he met Jesus.