Simon of Cyrene, Luke 23:26; Matthew 11:28-30

Finally, Jesus fell beneath the load. The weight of the cross brought him to his knees. When that happened, those in charge of the processional pulled a black man from the crowd of on-lookers. They forced him to carry the cross behind Jesus, the rest of the way up the hill. Burdens in the moment are burdens, even if later they are seen to have been a blessing in disguise. It was not an honor at the time for black Simon of Cyrene to be pulled from the crowd and to be tainted by association with the condemned Jesus.

Simon of Cyrene was seen as little more than a donkey, a beast of burden. Jesus was in the process of fulfilling his role as the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. The trafficking of humans as nothing more than animals or slaves is still a cancer spread around the globe. Jesus, Lamb of God, still walks among the slaves and offers forgiveness to the slaveholders.

One does not have to own slaves to possess a slaveholder mentality. Letting others suffer for our own comfort is a philosophy that is common in conscious and sub-conscious forms throughout the world. God, in Christ, counters the sin with grace and mercy.

In our day, the yoke of slavery still brings the innocent to their knees. But the yoke of the gentle and humble Jesus is offered to those who are oppressed and weary. It is easy and light. The shoulders of Jesus and his disciples are to be found lifting up the yoke of the oppressed. At least, that is how it is supposed to work.

Black-skinned Simon

Black-skinned Simon,

Tote the cross.

Dark-skinned Simon,

Bear the load.

Black-skinned Simon,

Back bent low,

Know what man-beasts know.

Black Simon,

Know what man-beasts know.

Tote it like a donkey; tote it for the Lamb.

Fully God, fully man, fully lamb, Jesus falls beneath the load.

Black Simon, tote it like a donkey; tote it for the Lamb.

Black-skinned Simon,

On your back

You carry the law’s own death.

Carry the trial; carry the verdict;

You carry the law’s own death.

Black Simon, you carry the law’s own death.

Tote it like a donkey; tote it for the Lamb.

Black Simon, know what man-beasts know.

Help me to not add to the burden of the oppressed,

but to bend my back with them, as if their burdens were mine.



A word about the series

The Lenten season has always inspired many people to create everything from poems, art and music to a completely new direction in their lives.  This Lenten season Tabernacle will be exploring many of those creations in the hope of inspiring you to compose in a medium that is natural for you.   The paintings in the Sanctuary are of the Biblical Stations of the Cross.  The artist, Grieg Leach, completed them in 2010.  They will help us to visualize the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus.  In addition to the paintings there is a Lenten devotional booklet, Return to Me, which is available in print or online.  The Stations of the Cross also inspired these devotions, written by Terry York of Baylor University.   Living with these two bodies of artistic expression based on the Biblical Stations of the Cross throughout the season of Lent should help us as we seek to return our lives to God by walking with Jesus though his final days.

Pray, read, think and return to God.



All scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Copyright © 2013 Birnamwood Publications (ASCAP)

A division of MorningStar Music Publishers, Inc., St. Louis, MO

All rights reserved.  Printed in U.S.A.


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