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Simon the Cyrenian – A Good Day to Be African (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
October 11, 2022 6:00 am

Simon the Cyrenian – A Good Day to Be African (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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October 11, 2022 6:00 am

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God saw him. You see, it reminds us of the story when Jesus said, I have to go to Samaria.

Why? Well, because that's where the Samaritan woman at the well was, and Jesus needed to save her soul and her village. Jesus needed to save Simon too, and he knew he was going to save Simon, and he knew this would not be a waste.

And he knew the man that touched his cross on this day, at that moment, would be touched by him in return. This is Cross Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of Genesis.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. Romans chapter 16 is where Pastor Rick will start today. He'll be continuing his study called Simon the Cyrenian, a good day to be African. In Romans 16, Paul says, greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. He said, well, this Rufus was a pretty common name back then. Yeah, but the Holy Spirit is linking it, connecting it. Mark knew his readers, who were Roman primarily, he wrote to the Roman thinking, to the Roman mind, to the Christians dispersed under the influence of Rome. The Holy Spirit knew that when Mark was told or impressed to write these names that he would use it again.

This is going to resurface, he said. I will use this later in scripture. And so there we see Rufus in the church and his mother 20 years later, and the math works perfectly.

A young mom 20 years later, no problems with that. But back to this complexion. It was the dark skin that awarded him the right to carry the cross, according to the law of these Romans. It was an exclusive task in all the universe. He gets it. Without that, without this complexion, he would have missed the moment. Wouldn't have been his. Critical selection.

Why is that? Well, when they were leaving the courts and on their way to Golgotha, Jesus was physically spent as stated. The centurion knew he wasn't going to make it.

He already knew. You see, the other two, they had their breakfast. They weren't scourged that night. They had been sitting in confinement. They had their breakfast and off to the cross they went. The Lord was up all night.

He was abused physically and severely. Just the Roman scourge was enough to strike fear into anyone. Forget about the cross.

That just makes it worse. But the scourge, if you're just going to give me the scourge, that's something to tremble over. And so the centurion knew he wasn't going to make it. So as soon as he stepped out and looked into the crowd, he said, I need to find somebody to carry this cross for this man. I'm not going to carry it.

My soldiers are not going to carry it. The cross was a shameful thing. And he couldn't have a Jew carry it either. And so they compelled a certain man, it says here in our text in Mark 15.

And this would turn out to be a good day for this African. He didn't know it at the time. Now I mentioned this was early in the march, that he was suddenly seized. Matthew, chapter 27, verse 32, we read, Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear his cross.

As they came out, that's how spent the flesh of the Lord was. And so the centurion, looking for a candidate that he could force to carry the cross less than a mile to Calvary. He couldn't pick a Jew. A Jew could have caused a scene. This was Passover season, don't forget. The city was loaded with Jewish men. It was mandated by God that the Jew come to Jerusalem for the Passover. That's why Simon the convert to Judaism was in Jerusalem. That's why we're told in Matthew 15, 21, he was coming out of the country and passing by. He was going into the city, coming out of the country.

It's put there so we can understand the moment. Now I will say that as he scanned the crowd, had he saw a Chinese man, that Chinese man would have been a candidate. Had he saw a Nordic, a blue-eyed blonde standing there, that individual would have been the candidate. Because they would have been distinct from the rest of the Jews. No Chinese man was there.

No Viking was there. But there was this African man, clearly distinct from everyone around him. And that's the one that got the position. That's the one that qualified.

He was outstanding in many ways. And so during this Passover season, flooded with men, this obedient convert to Judaism is put to shame. It's a shameful thing, the cross.

There was nothing good about it at all. Unless he knew who this was carrying the cross, which it was not possible for him to know, this was nothing but shame. It would have been shame for any of the disciples to carry this. To even be associated with the cross, to even touch it, would have been unacceptable. Luke's Gospel, chapter 23, verse 26.

Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus. And so he's walking behind the Lord, obedient to Judaism, having no choice. He dared not resist the Roman authority.

They would have killed him on the spot. But it's another insight into the man that he's in Jerusalem to be obedient. We find that he is zealous. It sort of reminds us of Cornelius in Acts, chapter 10. He, too, was a convert to Judaism. He was known for his dedication to God and his zeal for the Jew. This was the same type of man in Simon. Now, it's interesting that where Luke says, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming out of the country, that word there, argos in the Greek, denotes a cultivated field.

Remember, less than two months is going to be harvest celebrated by the Pentecost, the bringing of the first fruits. Was he taking a shortcut through the field? Did he have business there? It's not said.

It's irrelevant. Perhaps he had a friend who owned the field who he was staying with. Jerusalem would have been crowded.

He might have been sleeping outside in the field. There would have been almost no room for him to find a place. Even to this day, to get an apartment overlooking the Temple Mount, you will pay big money. And the Jews, many of them that own these apartments, they only come once a year to those apartments. But they're so zealous for it, they won't give it up. That's how special Jerusalem is to be in the heart of any Jew who considers himself a child of the law of Moses.

And this man was one of those. And so now it's nine o'clock in the morning. He's getting an early start on morning worship. And then is now the shame that is attached to this specified for us in Acts. Well, first I'll take Hebrews chapter 12, verse 2. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame. You would think the writer would say he endured the cross, despising the pain. Well, the pain is in the shame to be associated with this object.

And so this is what's going through, again, Simon's head. Acts chapter 5, so they departed from the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. Well, this didn't belong to this servant. This did not even belong to the apostles. They did not know how yet to suffer shame without the Holy Spirit. This is why oftentimes you find someone who confesses Christ, believes he is the Lord and Savior, is not filled with the Holy Spirit, and is afraid to tell people that I am a Christian, that I love the Lord Jesus Christ, and that I want to tell you about this Savior that is my Savior.

They're not filled with the Holy Spirit. Tarry in Jerusalem, you shall receive power. You shall be my witnesses, Jesus said. Going through his mind at this moment when he was picked must have been, how did this happen to me?

How did I get selected for this? I don't think for one moment he pieced together what was going through the mind of the centurion because he identified, Simon identified with the Jews. He was one of them. The Roman, he's not looking at it that way. Life comes at you very quickly. Thank God this happened to me is what he would be saying for the rest of his life once this story was put together. A Roman soldier did compel him to carry the cross, but the love of Christ compelled him to never put it down.

That should be how it is for all of us. That is one of the things that struck me going through this for me personally, not as a pastor who I want to come tell this to everybody, though I do, but personally. The cross of Christ struck me when I was converted, and I've never forgotten that moment. I never forgot, I have not forgotten when the lights turned on, and I saw that I was wrong.

And Jesus is right, and it's a big right, and I had a big wrong. And he made it go away in the snap of a finger. And so Mark tells us passing by.

Passing by, he wasn't going to be part of this. No doubt he was wowed at the sight of this scourged and doomed man. He was in agony. He was in desperate need of help. Maybe he said, what a non-hacker. The other two guys are carrying their cross. If you're going to do the crime, then you should be able to do the time. That's how a lot of men think, and sometimes it's right.

But you better be careful who you apply it to. He saw Christ. His first look at Christ was on a hard day. It was the worst day so far for the Christ physically, and yet much more pain awaited him.

Listen to what John says, John chapter 19 verse 17. And he, bearing his cross, went out to a place called the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. Simon had no idea that this was the suffering Messiah of Isaiah 53, of Psalm 22, Psalm 69, of so many other places in the Old Testament that all of the things that Moses put into the temple were speaking about this person and his relationship to sinners. Not a clue that he was part of the fulfillment of a very grand piece of scripture and that this one was what Jerusalem was all about. Way back to the days of Isaac, when Moses was told to take Isaac to Moriah, which would become Jerusalem.

And here, here is the crowning moment. He had missed his teachings, his healings, his miracles. He wasn't there at the Passover table when Jesus institutes the communion for us, and he does it in a matter-of-fact kind of way. He's just talking with them, and they're eating, and he tears the bread, and he says, take this as my body, do this in remembrance. He doesn't say, hey, everybody can have your attention. It's just a matter of fact. It's commonplace to him. It's a part of dining to commune with God.

And then he says, takes the glass after it, and when you drink this, remember me, the blood that was shed for you. Simon missed that. He missed the great Hallel, the Hallelujah to God, those psalms that the Jews would sing at the Passover season. He sung those songs, but not with Jesus.

There was no connection for him. Simon's first view of Christ was a distorted one, one of a defeated felon and failure. That oftentimes is the same view we have before we become Christians. That's why we don't become Christians.

We're humans. We see Christ as a failure or something else, a distorted view, because once you get a good look at Jesus Christ, you're never the same again, even if you reject him. I believe this was the case with Nero. I believe Nero received the gospel from Paul because God told him, you will confess me before season.

I take that literally. And it was about that time that Nero went wild. Yes, his mentors were out of the way.

There was no one there to constrain him. But deeper than that, there was a man that heard the gospel, looking the apostle Paul in the face, and he rejected it. And Nero was never the same ever again. It's just, which side are we going to be on? And so he did not know that he was looking at the sacrifice.

You catch that. He's going to Jerusalem to sacrifice the Passover as part of this worship experience. He's looking at the sacrifice, and he doesn't even know it. This is the Lamb of God.

This is God's substitution. This is the one dying in my place as the scripture brings out so clearly in so many places in our New Testament. The great one, is it not appropriate that this is in the chapter of our resurrected bodies of the rapture? In the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians and the third verse, Paul says, I deliver to you, first of all, that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the word of God. I love that.

And I know you do too. And so let's kind of look at how this is in the word of God from just one place, Leviticus chapter 1. That first chapter with the Holocaust, the whole burnt offering is given to the Jew as to how it is to be presented.

And in that section, here's this specification in the 11th verse of Leviticus 1. He shall kill it on the north side of the altar before Jehovah, and the priests Aaron's sons shall sprinkle his blood all around the place of sacrifice, the altar. Now I have no doubt that Golgotha is located. It's known today as Gordon's Calvary. General Gordon, the British general, is the one that pinpointed this is the spot, and the key feature for it being that spot and not the other place that the Roman Catholics say, no, this is a spot, is this verse. Gordon's Calvary is north of where the altar would have been according to the scripture, he being the high priest. His blood was sprinkled around the place of sacrifice.

Outside the city, to the north. When Moses wrote that scripture, he knew nothing of Simon the African, nothing about him. When Simon the African took up the cross, he knew nothing about. He was part of the fulfillment of Leviticus 1.11 and its relationship to the Messiah.

Amazing. Life comes at us fast. No one can carry the cross of Christ and remain the same, and that is one of the reasons why I also believe that this man, Simon a Cyrenian, is the same Simon the Cyrenian known as Niger found in Acts chapter 13, and again, he is the father of Alexander and Rufus and the mother whom Paul said, your mom and my mom. And so all of this making Simon the conscript, that man who came out from the field that day, who would have bypassed it all, all of it making him into someone else. Again, he almost missed it.

He's that close. Look with me again at our text, Matthew 15 at the bottom, it says, and he was coming out of the country and passing by. I don't want to see that, but the centurion saw him. God saw him. You see, it reminds us of the story when Jesus said, I have to go to Samaria.

Why? Well, because that's where the Samaritan woman at the well was, and Jesus needed to save her soul and her village. Jesus needed to save Simon, too, and he knew he was going to save Simon, and he knew this would not be a waste, and he knew the man that touched his cross on this day, at that moment, would be touched by him in return.

Not against his will, but with his will. He knew Simon was obedient. He knew Simon was looking for truth. He knew Simon came out of the religions of Africa.

He came into Judaism. It made much more sense. It was closer to what he knew was the truth, and it hadn't even begun yet. Simon lingered long enough after taking that cross to Calvary, after it was then transferred to the soldiers and Christ was placed upon it, and then, after nailing him to this cross and erecting it, and remember, when the Romans crucified, they wanted the public to see it. There was nothing about it that was shrouded.

Everything about it was public. It was supposed to be a deterrent to crime, and so, when they crucified them, they wanted them to be eye-to-eye with anyone who stood in front of them. It was not up on a hill. It was in this quarry from where they cut the very stone, probably to build the temple, or at least contribute to its building, certainly to the houses of the city and the roadways and the walls, and so that means he would have not only have heard the words had he lingered at Calvary, and I believe he did, but he would have also caught the facial expressions that went with the words. All of this would have been drilling deep down into him. It would have been getting in there, touched by the suffering. His humanity was stirred.

It might have been one of the reasons why he was passing by. He didn't want to see this. I don't want to see that stuff. I saw it before.

It was disgusting. What Romans do with condemned criminals, God didn't let him get away, and while he was touched by the suffering, he was further touched by the sacrifice. How many of us in our past knew about the cross of Christ, and maybe we felt, you know, it's not a good story, but then once we became believers, we had a whole other view.

Everything was sweeter, brighter, more brilliant. Everything reached deeper into us. When you mention the cross, we perk right up. We understand that it's a cross of Christ, none like it. It's my cross. That's mine. Nobody else's.

Get your own. And so he was touched by the sacrifice. As I said, Simon was looking at the sacrifice in Christ Jesus. He was looking at Isaiah 53 right in front of him. Isaiah 53, verse 3, He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, and we hid, as it were, our faces from him.

Is that not Simon walking by, not looking? He's passing by that little thing put in there by the Holy Spirit to connect to Isaiah 53. A man of sorrows acquainted with grief, and we hid, as it were, our faces.

That's what Cain did. He hid from the sacrifice and the blood and the gore. God's holiness flashed out like the flame on the altar. There was no flame at the cross, no physical flame, but there was fire.

There was much of it. And so, again, we return to this idea that over 20 years later, since that great day when it was good to be African, because had he not been African, somebody else would have been picked. We see his own family, one to Christ. Again, Romans 16, 13, Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother in mine. So, you know, again, the Bible, when these men were writing scripture, they were writing to other human beings, to other sinners, to other saved sinners, to people who had jobs and who were slaves and who had horrible things, and all sorts of problems like we have today.

They were writing to each other. They weren't always saying, well, I better say who Rufus is for 2,000 years later so we can all understand this. The Holy Spirit says, I'll take care of that. And he does, because as he tells us in Ezekiel, I've done nothing without a cause. When God writes a name down, there's something happening.

It's for us to find out. And so little did he know that day that he was being identified with Christ's cross. Who doesn't want that? What Christian does not want to be identified with the cross of Christ? So much so, we wear it around our neck. We put it on our jewelry. We inscribe it on our books.

We have it everywhere. The cross of Christ, we want to be identified. That's our identity. That's who we are.

That is what has happened to us. It is no longer I who live. It's Christ who lives in me. It's Christ on the cross, off the cross, out of the tomb. That's who we are identified with.

That is what is happening to this African man. You've been listening to Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Pastor Rick is teaching from God's word each time you tune in.

As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, this teaching is available free of charge at our website. Just visit That's We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can do so at or search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app store. That's all for today. Join Pastor Rick next time for more character studies. Right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-19 15:40:45 / 2022-12-19 15:50:10 / 9

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