April 22

Mark 15:21-23 21A 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. 22They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 23Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

The beatings and Roman scourging had so weakened Jesus that He could not carry the crossbeam to the site of the crucifixion. Jesus was at the end of physical ability. Simon had journeyed from North Africa to celebrate the Feast of Passover. He was forced to carry the beam. This encounter with Jesus would change his life. His children later became well known in the early church.

There is some debate about where the crucifixion site is. Two popular ones exist in Jerusalem, but no one can say for sure which, if either, is authentic. It would have been near a gate and beside a road. The Scriptures tell us He was brought to a hill, not on a hill. It was probably a place of frequent executions.

A group of Jewish women regularly met those who were to be crucified to offer a pain deadening mixture of strong wine and myrrh. When Jesus tasted it, He refused it. He had promised not to drink the fruit of the vine until He drank it new with the disciples in the Kingdom (Mark 14:25). The women pitied Him, but He grieved for them, for He knew they were rejecting their only hope. Their pity was mere human sentimentality. His was for the future suffering of Jerusalem and the souls who rejected Him. We would have welcomed anything to deaden the pain. Jesus met death head on, determined not to flinch but to conquer it for us.

There is a lesson in His determination. We often skirt our trials, looking for the easy way out. Jesus faced them with faith in His Father. He knew that total reliance on the Father would see Him through anything even if it meant obedience unto death. That is faith!

Prayer: Lord, when we are faced with the trials that inevitably come from obedience to You, help us to face them with Your resolute determination.