“All right, but remember I’m an innocent man, forced to carry the cross of a condemned man.”
I just finished watching Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ, and was struck by these words of Simon of Cyrene when he was seized to help Jesus carry the cross. While I recognize these words are not in Scripture, I think they capture so much truth. When Simon begins the trek with Jesus, you see his resentment and even arrogance thinking he has been wronged in being forced to carry this condemned man’s cross. And yet, how often do I cry out that I am innocent when life brings challenges or hardships that I believe are unfair or that it is wrong for me to walk through?
As the men continue their walk towards Calvary, Gibson depicts a change in Simon’s perspective as he witnesses the words of the prophet Isaiah fulfilled, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Jesus was mocked, ridiculed and beaten and yet never opened his mouth. But how quick I am to speak up and defend myself when I believe someone has wronged me. Yet Jesus, the only innocent man, remained silent as he knew it was the only way. “It was the will of the LORD to crush him…by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:10-11).
This Easter Sunday, we may find ourselves forced to celebrate a little differently and we may even feel it is unfair. But let us remind ourselves that the only innocent man to ever walk this earth gave himself over to death to cover the sins of each one of us who have been condemned. And yet we can rejoice as the tomb is empty! “Blessed be the God and Father of Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
Reflecting on this incredible gift of grace, I have compiled the verse set, The Power of the Cross. This latest set of personalized Scripture cards focuses on the life we find in Christ’s death. Let us join Paul is saying, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).