We’ve heard the story of Simon of Cyrene a million times. As I was reading it recently, I noticed something new:
They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry [Jesus’] cross. (Mark 15:21)
The detail of this verse is striking. This wasn’t just some guy helping Jesus out. This was someone they knew. This was the father of Alexander and Rufus, not some other Simon.
I wonder what they were saying about Simon. Did they know him as a giving man or as someone who would only help when pressed into service? Did they know him before and see him as deeply changed afterwards? Or did they know his sons? There was something extra that was personal to the ones hearing the story.
It is so easy to take the stories of the Bible and make them just that – stories. When you read closely, though, they are stories of events being told to people who would know the context, and who would know the characters. It’s how we tell stories: “Did you hear about John? He’s the guy that wears the loud ties? Well …” and on the story goes. Context has been created, identity has been confirmed, and now you care about the story.
It is a constant challenge to read the Bible and listen to God in a way that is personal and real. May this be a reminder that our story is just as intimately known as Simon’s was back then.