Simon of Cyrene

Michael Wilcock

READ : Luke 23:13-26

They laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. (v. 26)

Although Luke does put a lot of skill and art into his writing, I don’t believe his reference to Simon of Cyrene is meant to be particularly artful or deeply significant. Some think “Cyrenian = Libyan = African = black” and identify this Simon with “Simeon the Black,” whom Luke mentions in Acts 13. But he need not have been African at all, in our sense of the word, or even a Gentile; there was a big Jewish community in Cyrene, from which many had come back to Judea.

No; he was another of this Gospel’s “outsiders” in the sense of coming not from a different nation or race but from a different country. Luke mentioned him, I think, simply because he knew him. So, it seems, did Mark, and Peter, and Paul, and many in the early church.

But what an extraordinary thing—to have come from abroad and to find oneself caught up in the central event of all history, the death of the Son of God. And then to actually carry his cross for him right to the place of execution. Never, never would Simon have forgotten how he met Jesus on Good Friday, of all days, and literally took up the cross and followed him (Luke 9:23).


We pray, Lord, for all in every land who today take up the cross to follow Jesus.