“And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.
22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. 23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. 24 And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. 25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. 26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. 28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. 29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, 30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross. 31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 35 And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. 36 And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.” Mark 15:21-36 (KJV)
After Jesus had been beaten with the “Cat o nine tails”, and stricken by the hands of His mockers and accusers Jesus would have been very weak physically. As they took Jesus on “The way of suffering” called “Via Delorosa” He may have stumbled from the weakness and they compelled one Simon from Cyrene to carry the cross, or help Him carry it. This wooden cross would have been heavy to bear even for a man who had not lost much blood, as Jesus had. This Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus. This Rufus is probably the Rufus mentioned in the book of Romans, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
(Rom 16:13)”. It is quite possible that because of this experience the man Simon and his two sons, Alexander and Rufus, became followers of Jesus. Simon was a help to Jesus and Jesus was certainly a help to Simon and his family.
They offered Jesus a “Wine mixed with myrrh to drink”, but He refused it. It was a drink that would have dulled His senses, and numbed His pain. Jesus’ choice of love was to endure the pain with all His senses about Him, and to suffer the full pain and retribution of sin, as His Father judged the sin of the world. Refusing the drink, He would still be able to communicate with His Father, and not sin.
The third “Help” does not seem much like help for Jesus. They actually were helping themselves to the garments which Jesus wore. It would take an awfully cold, calloused heart to set at the foot of a cross and gamble for the garments of a condemned man, be he innocent or guilty. Here these men were playing a game at the feet of an innocent, sinless, guiltless man, and seemingly with no remorse, or shame. My, how there is varied instance of people’s responses to the death of Jesus. Some are cold and callous, some are weeping, some are running away, some are just political, and some bow and call Him, Lord.
The time would have been 9 a.m. when the crucifixion took place. Pilate had a placcard written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, “The King of the Jews”. John writes, “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” (John 19:19).
According to John’s Gospel the “chief priests of the Jews” did not like the words, they believed it should say, that He said, “I am king of the Jews”. Pilate stood his ground and said, “What I have written I have written.”
One of the things Jesus was sure of, and committed to was the “Fulfillment of Scripture”. Here we have another fulfillment of the Scriptures. “He was numbered with the transgressors” –
“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12 (KJV)”.
There were three men hung on the tree that day- two thieves and the One who gives life to all who trust in Him. There is a song with the chorus that says, “The one on the left, he was a sinner, the one on the right was too, but the man in the middle He was the Savior, and He died just to save me and you.” We know from Scripture that one of these theives put his trust in Jesus (Luke 23:39-43).
The people who passed by the cross where Jesus was spoke in blasphemous, defaming, reviling words. They mocked His precious words in which He spoke of rising from the dead – “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it once again”. They commented about “Save Thyself and come down from the cross…” How could Jesus pay the sin debt of the world if He came down from the cross. On the cross, Jesus was doing the greatest work He came to do. He came to minister and give His life a ransom for many (10:45). His greatest work was to glorify the Father, and He did that by completing the task which was given Him. To die on the cross was the glory of the heavenly Father, and made it possible that wicked, sinful, blemished, spotted man might be reconciled to Him. If they had known what they were asking they would not have asked. Knowing what I know of this today, my question would be, “How could You do that for me?”
Likewise the “chief priests” were demanding that if He was indeed the Son of God, “Save yourself” and “…that we may see and believe”. They had seen the mighty works which He had done. They still would not believe, and because of that, and because they would not believe their scriptures, they would not believe though He arose from the dead.
There was a period of darkness over the land. My personal belief is that this darkness was more than just a local phenomonen. It was worldwide. The main and maybe only reason I believe that is, that, the reason Jesus died was for the sins of the world, thus the whole world would, most likely, have gone into this great darkness. It was a spiritual darkness unlike anything the world had ever seen. It was a total darkness. It lasted for three hours while Jesus suffered the wrath and judgment of the Father for sin – our sin. It was the darkest and most dreaded day of Jesus’ life. “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me” was His cry after the judgment had been made. The Father had turned His back on His Son, because He had been made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21).
Some who were standing there thought Jesus was calling for Elijah to come and rescue Him from the cross. One ran to get a sponge full of vinegar which Jesus now receives (John 19:30). His work was finished. There was no more for Him to do for the atonement of sin. I am so thankful that He was not calling for Elijah to come and remove Him from the cross, though I know He would have used other means. He could have called thousands of angels to come to His aid. He could have spoken a word, and it would have all been over. He could have called to the Father, “I cannot bear it”, but He bore it for you and for me. If He had not bourne it for us we would be forever doomed to eternal torment.
-Tim A. Blankenship