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"His Cross - your cross"

Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 29 Mar 2015

Mar 15:21 And they made one who was passing by, Simon a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear His cross.

The Lord’s trial had gone through the night, from Pilate to Herod and back to Pilate. Herod and Pilate were enemies, but now they became friends. They found common ground in their enmity against Jesus.

On the way to be crucified, history teaches us that Jesus was carrying His cross and fell down because He was weak from all the torture. The Bible doesn’t specifically say that but historians mention it. But the Bible does tell us that when He went to Gethsemane, He took with Him His disciples only to a certain point and three others a little further and left them too and He went still a little further and prayed earnestly, even so that His sweat drops were as blood. He was in a terrific battle, and He prayed and said, "Father if it’s possible let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless not My will but Your will be done". That cup was filled with your sin and my sin - the sin of the world. He Who is the Holy Son of God became sin for us! Jesus was fully man and fully God.

The Lord Jesus came to take away our sin, and when His pure Blood came into contact with the sin of the world, it was a terrible battle! It drained Him from all His strength so that an angel from Heaven had to come and strengthen Him, for He had no strength left. His disciples had all fallen asleep. They were supposed to be with Him in prayer, but they had fallen asleep. He was alone in this battle. He fought it alone, so that He was totally exhausted.

They’ve beaten Him in the most cruel way, they had plowed His back so that His lungs were exposed. This carried on right through the night together with the trial. He was only crucified at 9am.

When Pilate had condemned Him to death, He had to carry His own cross and they put the crown of thorns on His head in the most cruel way that the thorns pierced Him. On the way He fell, not according to the Bible specifically, but that’s what some historians wrote. As He was in this state, this man Simon came, passing through. He was from Cyrene, in Africa, today known as Libya. They ordered this Simon to carry His cross, for even His enemies realised that He was too weak to carry His cross any further. Simon didn’t agree with what the enemies of the Lord did and wanted to go and work in his field, and for that reason they forced him to take part and carry His cross.

Simon had two sons, Alexander and Rufus. It’s noteworthy that the names of his two sons are mentioned, as if they were well known and pillars in the early church (see also Rom 16:13). Christian historians also wrote that they became missionaries, spreading the Gospel together with their father.

We do know that Simon was reluctant, they had to force him to carry the cross of Jesus. The Bible says that every believer has to carry his cross (Luke 9:23). If you don’t carry your cross you’re not a disciple of Jesus. The cross Jesus carried brought about His death. And so it is that everyone who carries this cross is condemned to death. You have no rights of your own anymore. During this time we hear so much of human rights and that we have to fight for our rights, but a disciple of Jesus has no rights of his own. When Jesus was lead to the cross He too had no rights, He simply had to go to be crucified and was treated with contempt by the crowd, yet He opened not His mouth.

Simon, although he was unwilling to carry the cross, yet through it he received a blessing and even his children were blessed. Jesus carried our sin as though it was His own.

Let’s look at this fact that Simon was from Africa. Some Africans say that Jesus belongs to the white man, but here and in other places we see how Africans played a central role and also received the blessing. In Israel there are African Jews that have a dark skin, so it’s sad when Africans say that Christianity is just for the whites. Herod was a white, but he tried to kill the Lord Jesus. When Herod wanted to kill the Lord an angel appeared to Joseph to warn him to flee into Egypt in Africa and He was saved. An African carried the cross yet today many Africans reject the cross.

May God bless Africa for what they’ve done for our Lord, saving Him at birth and carrying His cross on the way to Golgotha! God loves Africa.

Years ago a black man at Maqhoko came and told me that he loves the whites for all the good things they’ve brought to Africa and he asked me to come more often to them to help them further.

It’s strange that some say that they don’t want the "white man’s religion", but then enjoy all the things the white man brought, cars, aeroplanes, trains etc., and don’t realise the irony of it all! Do you see how you condemn yourself and will shut yourself out of heaven if you carry on in that contradictory way?

A certain heathen man who didn’t even want to wear shoes because of his ancestors, realised that his future daughter in law stole madumbis from white missionaries and took it home. He said he didn’t want a thief in his house and wanted to teach her a lesson, so he went to her house with his traditional weapons and asked her to come with him. He told her not to be afraid but that she must be taught a lesson never to do such a thing again. He took her to the police station, explained the situation to them and opened a case against her, which brought her to her senses that she never did such a thing again. He was a total heathen, but he was so upright. Christian man, would you do such a thing? Maybe some heathen whom you look down upon will get into heaven before you who call yourself a Christian!

What is your life like? You call yourself a Christian yet allow your children or grandchildren to live immorally and even look after their babies while they carry on with their sinful lives? What will your end be like? This is to wake you up, lest your mind be bewitched by the evil around you.

The Lord Jesus said that they will come from the east and west and sit at the tables of heaven with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but the children of the kingdom will be cast out (Matt 8:11-12).

Maybe you meet up with difficulty, and then you complain. But if you go through that faithfully you will receive blessings the others who didn’t go through that will never receive. Be prepared to carry that cross, and if you do it, you and your children will receive the blessing. Maybe they will become future pillars of the church like Alexander and Rufus.

Don’t be a fool and end in hell. Jesus died for you, and He prayed for you. He prayed even for His enemies, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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