Modern Day Reporter Series
Exclusive interview with Simon of Cyrene by Bill Byrnes
“…they laid hold upon one Simon of Cyrene…and upon him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.” Luke:23:26
Editor’s Note: Our coverage of the “Terror of Golgotha” painted a terrifying picture of the last moments of slain rabbi Jesus of Nazareth. But now, the question arises as to why Simon of Cyrene was chosen to help Jesus? Was there more to it than an expedient choice by a Roman soldier?
Jerusalem, Judea, (Good) Friday 7:00 pm; reporter, Bill Byrnes:
I’ve just finished observing the body of Jesus of Nazareth being removed from the cross. The burial party is led by Joseph of Arimathaea . They’ve just left the area, but right now I’m with the man who carried the cross – Simon of Cyrene.
“ Simon, why did the Romans choose you to carry Jesus’ cross?” Were you one of his disciples?”
“ No. I had heard of him, like almost every Jew. But even if I were a disciple, after watching this – do you think I would admit to it?”
“No.” I admitted , “I don’t think I would . But I noticed that he was telling you several things. Would you mind sharing them with my readers?”
“Yes, but first I must mention spectacles like this make one wonder if this is the cost for all of Rome’s civilizing influences. And if it is…is it too much? No one should have to die like this man did; I cannot think of anything more painful !”
“Yes, I had hoped to meet this man. Me and my family came to Jerusalem for the Passover…I still cannot believe he did anything bad enough to merit punishment like this. What was his crime?”
“Blasphemy.”, I answered.
“That cannot be”, he stammered. “Throughout the whole ordeal all he did was talk to me about peaceful issues , like the ones he raised at his sermons…he used the term beatitudes. He did not complain once about the Romans, or his other persecutors. In fact, he was more concerned about me & my family. He even knew the names of both my sons; Alexander and Rufus. I don’t know how this was possible? My family had never met him – and I know he had never been to my home country of Cyrene (modern day Ethiopia). Among the last things he said to me was that anyone who followed his teachings and witnessed them to the world would be saved and would dwell with him forever in Heaven.”
I noticed the look in his eyes: it was distracted and seemed to be searching for a distant point to focus upon.
“So, Simon, what will you do from here on?”
“When I get home tonight, I will talk with my wife and sons about this man. I shall gather all his teachings I can find….
“And.…” , I quickly interrupted.
“And…then we shall see. Maybe he shall have four witnesses.”, he said with a small, wry smile, then quickly added, “Just don’t tell the Romans.”
I noticed that Joseph’s small group started their laborious path to his burial tomb. I had to wrap up my interview. “Simon, is there anything else you’d like to share?”
“Yes. When I return home to Cyrene I must consult the scriptures: This man Jesus – before being nailed to this cross – told me: ‘Go, descendant of Ham, with the peace that I , a descendant of Shem, have bequeathed to you. Show love and serve every Roman. They are the descendants of Japheth.’ ” With that he left at a deliberate pace. My guess is he didn’t want any lingering Romans observing him leaving too quickly.
When I got home I researched the scriptures. When I found the passage Simon referred to I realized that it was anything but chance that led that Centurion to call upon Simon to help the young Rabbi.
Genesis: 9:25-27: (Prophecy of Noah): “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”
When I woke up the next morning I realized the true impact of the prophecy: The Jews, including Simon and his family were descendants of Canaan, the youngest son of Ham – himself the youngest son of Noah. The fact that Noah’s curse carried to Canaan, showed the punishment was directed at descendants of the family! Until they accepted Jesus (descendant of Shem) as their Lord and savior they would be bound in servitude to Japheth – Rome – which would become the ultimate seat of Christianity- after it accepted Jesus and became Christian!
Looking back , I’m sure that Simon of Cyrene came to understand this prophecy.
He was certainly good for his promise of studying the teachings of Jesus. His sons were prominent in spreading early Christianity. Rufus, and his mother, were mentioned in Romans:16:13. His other son, Alexander , was thought to have remained in Jerusalem, where his remains were discovered in 1941 in excavations in the Kidron Valley of Eastern Jerusalem
Men from Cyrene (which probably included Simon) were among those converted at Penteost. Also, Cyrenians were among the first scattered when Christians were persecuted in Jerusalem. After their return to their homeland they found the church at Antioch, and according to Acts:11:26, where disciples of Jesus were first called “Christians”.
As I consider these facts – one thing I realize is that the Centurion who chose Simon to carry that infamous cross – never had a choice. Simon of Cyrene was predestined as the man to serve Jesus. But, then, again, aren’t we all?