21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. Mark 15:21-24

Gethsemane was the place where Jesus settled His obedience to the Father once and for all. Now the events were playing out moment by painful moment which He had chosen with resolution and determination.

Mark does not embellish his story with gory details. His descriptions are simple, matter of fact, discreet, drawing a curtain around the emotional and physical agony Jesus suffered. He notes a detail which lets a tiny shaft of light into the darkness of these events. Someone else was called in to carry Jesus’ cross to the place of execution.

By this time, Jesus was so weak from lack of food, loss of blood and physical trauma that He could have died before He even reached Golgotha. Perhaps one of the soldiers felt a spark of pity for Him and pressed Simon of Cyrene into service to carry His crossbeam those last few yards to the place of execution. Perhaps his reason was completely different – the soldiers could not allow the criminal to die before He got his just deserts.

Why did Jesus refuse the painkiller the soldiers offered Him? Any sane-thinking person would have accepted anything that would deaden the pain of that terrible death – but not Jesus! He would carry the world’s load with the full force of that suffering in His frail body. In seven simple words, Mark records this shameful act of rejection, treachery and abuse of the Creator God of the universe, “And they nailed Him to the cross.” All humanity was involved in that act – the terrible consequence of sin. There was a debt to pay and someone had to pay it – all mankind or an innocent substitute.

The whole world’s attitude is symbolised by the words and behaviour of those around the cross. With His blood dripping onto the ground beside them, callous and careless of the one above them, the soldiers gambled for His clothing. What did the winner do with His blood-stained robe? Did he hang it up like a trophy? Did it silently accuse him, night and day? It’s the last thing anyone with a fragment of conscience would want in his possession,

Luella Campbell

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