As soon as morning came, the chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.” The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, “Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of.” Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them one prisoner whom they requested. A man called Barabbas was then in prison along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion. The crowd came forward and began to ask him to do for them as he was accustomed. Pilate answered, “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” For he knew that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate again said to them in reply, “Then what do you want me to do with the man you call the king of the Jews?” They shouted again, “Crucify him.” Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” They only shouted the louder, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged, handed him over to be crucified. The soldiers led him away inside the palace, that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort. They clothed him in purple and, weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him. They began to salute him with, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him. They knelt before him in homage. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him out to crucify him. 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 his cross. They brought him to the place of Golgotha—which is translated Place of the Skull — They gave him wine drugged with myrrh, but he did not take it. Then they crucified him and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” With him they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left. Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross.” Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him. At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “Look, he is calling Elijah.” One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink saying, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.” Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
According to various on-line dictionaries, a “bearer” is a person or thing that carries, upholds, and brings, a person who presents an order for money or goods, and/or a person who carries messages or is sent on errands. There are many things that we can bear in life (e.g. pain, news, weight, etc.). There are many titles depending upon what a bearer “bears” (e.g. pallbearer, stretcher bearer, flag bearer, the bearer of bad news, etc.). But, there’s one kind of bearing that we are all Called to do; following the example of Jesus, we are all called to become bearers of ours’/His Cross(s). In Matthew 16:24, Jesus shared with His Disciples that, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” This was well before we (the world) would ever learn that Jesus would be crucified by the very Cross that He was asking them to bear. Jesus never asks us to do something that He wouldn’t do (or have already done) Himself. Per the Gospels, Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter that is celebrated around the world as when Jesus entered Jerusalem (for His final earthly Passover) amongst a jubilant crowd shouting His praises while throwing down palm tree branches in front of his steed. In less than one week, many of those same people who saw Jesus enter Jerusalem accompanied by cheers would then see Jesus nailed to a Cross accompanied by jeers. But, at least one person on the day of Jesus’ Passion would be Blessed directly forever into Eternity by living Matthew 16:24 right next to Jesus – Simon the Cyrenian. Whether or not He was already a follower of Christ, it’s probably somewhat safe to assume that Simon did not want to be called into action to help Jesus carry His Cross that day – especially given the added attention from the Roman soldiers and how Jesus’ Friends had all deserted Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Within hours, Simon would go from bystander to critical actor in the tragedy that was unfolding just outside of Jerusalem. Within days, Simon would learn of the empty tomb. He was close with Jesus; probably close enough to smell His breath and see His wounds. He probably even had plenty of Jesus’ Blood on himself. The same Blood that would forever change the course of Eternity for all of mankind. He was “washed” in the Blood of the Lord. Simon’s Cross-experience was thrown-upon him violently. But, isn’t that the way that we feel sometimes? Our simple lives are turned upside-down in an instant by what can seem like, at the time, a catastrophic event or news – be it a diagnosis, a death, an accident, a relationship issue, the loss of a job, a heinous crime, an unexpected pregnancy, etc. Just like Simon, we might not understand it at the time, but, if we bear our Cross(s), give Jesus His due, and continue in obedience in Jesus, He will bring His Resurrection to our Souls in ways that only challenges like this can in life. It might seem much easier to just “coast” through life without any major issues or challenges, but, unless we get pruned by challenges, we (like rose bushes) won’t grow into the beautiful people that God Designed us to become. So, on this Palm Sunday, as we’re celebrating the Gift of Jesus in our lives, let us all do our best to embrace His Cross and our own sufferings. Sure, like Simon must have thought, the challenge is awful and the Cross can at times be almost too heavy for us to bear. But Jesus will be with us (just like He was with Simon) helping us to carry the Crosses that He allows in our lives. And, sometimes when we might least expect it, He will roll the stones away from the tombs in our hearts to reveal our Resurrected Faith(s).