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S (SCRIPTURE): Matthew 27:32
Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene," and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.
O (OBSERVATION): Jesus was so badly beaten he could no longer carry the cross on the way to his own execution.
A (APPLICATION): The invitation Jesus uses for discipleship was and is "Pick up your cross daily, die to yourself and follow me." Even though this story is familiar, the words are shocking. The soldiers forced him to carry Jesus cross. Simon literally carried out the call to discipleship. In 2002 I had the privilege to attend the global mission event in Hickory, NC. It was at that event that I learned of Alice, a woman who benefited from a ministry in Lebanon during the war in the 1980's. The ministry was for anyone who became disabled by violence, grenades, rocket launchers, bullets, etc. Alice was dragged out of her church on Easter Sunday, brought into the street by gun point. The soldiers brought down the crucifix from the church and forced each worshiper to spit on the cross and deny Christ. Each member did just that in order to save their lives....except Alice. Instead Alice prayed to forgive these men for their violent actions. The soldiers immediately shot Alice in the head.
Alice should have died that day. instead, she lived through those violent actions and became paralyzed from the neck down. Alice is now in charge of running that ministry that established itself in the middle of a war zone in order to provide healing in the midst of conflict.
When we think of the soldiers actions to force Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus cross they probably had no idea of Jesus invitation to do just that...Carry the cross.
P (PRAYER): Lord, help us be aware of the cost in following you. Not so we may live in fear but that we may live in freedom