"By the Book”
[Carrying Our Cross]
4/14/23 - Priscilla Van Sutphin
Just before Resurrection Sunday, I watched the Passion again as usual at this time of year. And as I watched I was struck by Simon of Cyrene, being forced to carry the cross, so looked up some things. One of which was a black pastor talking on him, in regards to leaving out some details that are in the bible. In Acts, Simon it says is called “Niger” which means BLACK! So there were black Hebrews living in Cyrene, which is modern day Libya at the time. It speaks also in the bible about him having a brother & 2 sons. I knew there was something He wanted to say about this & have been waiting on Him.
Then today as I watched an interview with Donna Rigney, she said that on Easter Sunday the Lord said to her “Those of you who follow Me up to Golgotha are My true disciples.”
That hit me! I knew then what the Lord was wanting to say by drawing my attention to Simon. I thought it may have something to do with the cross & was contemplating why not much is said about him. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone talk about it. As Donna spoke about how Jesus was so sad about all those going to hell, & how His heart is broken for them, God touched my heart, & I began to weep, feeling His sorrow & compassion.
He’s been working on my heart of late taking out some things that had entered in because of years of going through really hard pain & attacks. Now again I can feel His presence since Sunday when I worship again. I often feel it & manifest strongly when someone speaks His prophetic words & it applies to me, but hadn’t always for some time been feeling Holy Spirit presence in worship. I’ve felt dry & worn out at times. Yesterday as He was touching me in worship, a white moth/butterfly with purple markings on it’s wings was visiting my oregano plant on the patio of the apt. And at first I jumped up not wanting any moth babies laid there. But the butterfly/or moth flew up & around my head as if a visitor from heaven, so I knew it a sign of more freedom coming. Butterflies always mean that for me.
My little hummingbird friend also visited , sitting on the bouganvelia, as he seems to like the music, & of course the drinks from the hummer feeder along with his mate. Last year after having covid, I came home from the hospital, & the little green hummer I named “JOY” had built a nest on the patio on a long branch jutting out of the bouganvelia. So I got to see two clutches of baby hummers born there. Hummers represent Resurrection life in some places.
At night they get so still you would think they are dead, but in the morning they arise just as if from death to life becoming very active again. It was an encouraging message from God for me at the time. It was a hard recovery after 50 yrs of having asthma. [Before going into nursing, I had studied biology so He knows how I love animals.] So it was so kind of the Lord to send me that encouragement.
Matt 27 : 31 -32 Wycliffe And as they went out, they found a man of Cyrene coming from the town, Simon by name; they constrained him to take his cross. And after that they had scorned him, they unclothed him of the mantle, & they clothed him with his clothes, and led him to crucify him [and led him for to be crucified].
Mark 15:21 Now Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander & Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, & the soldiers forced him to carry the cross of Jesus.
Luke 23:26 As the soldiers led Him away, they seized Simon of Cyrene on his way in from the country, & put the cross on him to carry behind Jesus.
Acts 13:1 AMPC NOW IN the church (assembly) at Antioch there were prophets (inspired interpreters of the will & purposes of God) & teachers: Barnabas, Symeon (Simon) who was called Niger [Black], Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, & Saul.
2 While they were worshiping the Lord & fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Separate now for Me Barnabas & Saul for the work to which I have called them. 3 Then after fasting & praying, they put their hands on them & sent them away.
From an article online:
Everything recorded in the Bible is factual. From the truth of all reported words and events to the truth of Jesus as the Way & the Truth & the Life (John 14:6), the Bible wastes no words. The Holy Spirit superintended the words of Scripture to reflect God’s purposes, & everything it contains has meaning. Therefore, when we read short accounts of people, they are in the Word for a purpose. With that in mind, we should ask, “who was Simon of Cyrene & why is he mentioned in the Bible?”
Simon was, as written in Scripture, from Cyrene (Matthew, Mark, and Luke each say he was, “of”Cyrene), a city with a population close to 5,000 people. The Greeks made Cyrene a trade outpost ca. seventh century B.C., & it lay in the region of Cyrenaica, a coastal town on the Mediterranean Sea. As the Greeks expanded their empire, mythology guided them with names for new cities. Cyrene was named after Kyrene, the daughter of a Thessalian king (Hypseus), & a water nymph. Cyrene contained a number of Jewish settlers, & it is listed among the nations in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10). People from Cyrene heard Peter preach is if in their own language.
Since Cyrene sat in modern-day Libya on the northern tip of Africa, many conclude Simon was a dark-skinned man, but we cannot know for sure because the Bible is not definitive about his race. Simon may have been African, but he could have been a transplanted Jew or of some other descent. Scripture does not say, & we must not assert something unintended by the writer of the Scriptures.
(Pris: However it does call him BLACK!! so not agreeing with his take.)
Simon of Cyrene is mentioned by name in only three passages of Scripture: Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, and Luke 23:26). In Matthew, it is said, “they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry the cross.”Mark’s Gospel states, “they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry His cross.” Luke says, “And as they led Him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, & laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.”
Why Is it Important That Simon of Cyrene Carried the Cross?
Often in Scripture, the author gives or reveals why certain events & people are mentioned, be they lessons for believers today or to add substantiation to an account. The latter seems to be the case with Simon of Cyrene. He appears to be an aside to add interest to the story, but since the Lord wastes no words, his inclusion by the Gospel writers must have some import. In the whole of the Bible, not many people are named. That Simon is named gives credence to the account.
God is always purposeful, & He may have directed the soldiers to choose Simon of Cyrene to carry the Lord’s cross for a portion of His travail to Golgotha.
(Pris: I even wondered if they chose him because he was black, & a foreigner to the Romans)
We cannot lose sight of the fact that Immanuel (God with Us), the Creator (Colossians 1:16), the One Who carries our burdens (Psalm 55:22) accepted help from a man. What a lesson in humility. And we know that part of the execution process involved shameful, public humiliation. Simon did not merely spectate; he also partook in the Lord’s advance toward crucifixion.
If we imagine the scene along the way, we envision crowds taunting the Lord as He bears the weight of His cross. The people probably jostled each other to see the Christ go by, the One to Whom they so recently cried “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord (Mark 11:9)! Isaiah says, “He was despised and rejected by men…He was despised, & we esteemed Him not” (Isaiah 53:3). Mixed within the scoffers were disciples, including John, & Jesus’ mother, & Mary Magdalene (John 19:25-26). Matthew & Mark say Simon “was compelled” to carry the cross, while Luke says Simon “was seized” & had the cross laid on him. In each account, Simon is pressed into service. The passages do not say he volunteered. In a manner of spiritualizing what Simon did, some say we, too, would rather not carry our “crosses.”
No matter who the Father chose to carry the cross for Jesus, that the soldiers pressed a man into service as a cross-bearer speaks to Jesus’ disfigurement & extremely weakened state. Was it pity that caused them to do it? We may never know. The soldiers had orders to get Jesus to Golgotha & face crucifixion & death. The Father appointed His Son to “death on the cross,” (Isaiah 53:10, Phil. 2:8), but the Roman soldiers would likely not have known the prophecies related to Jesus’ crucifixion & death.
It’s possible, as they strode along with Him, that He, in His beaten state, may have looked ready to expire. Had that happened, the soldiers would have denied the mob their “spectator sport” of catcalls & a deathwatch as the crucifixion victims died on their crosses. The soldiers’ commanding officers expected them to carry out their complete orders, not let one of the men scheduled for crucifixion die before their duties were completed. Jesus, in agony, while in the Garden of Gethsemane, cried out to the Father, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:37-39).
Simon’s service perhaps represents the Father’s act of love to His Son to temporarily ease Jesus’ burden. In God’s providence, His intentions are always accomplished—always. How kind of God to allow Simon a part in His Son’s last earthly journey (in His first advent).
Luke’s Gospel says Simon carried the cross “behind Jesus.” Some also spiritualize Simon’s conveyance of Jesus’ cross in relation to how we as believers are to “bear our own crosses” as we follow Jesus (Luke 14:27). Simon of Cyrene provides us with an implicit illustration of what that looks like. It’s not easy to follow Jesus. The world system tries to sway us with its distractions & enticements, just as Simon most likely received taunts & offers as he carried the Lord’s burden.
...What Happened to Simon of Cyrene after the Resurrection?
Scripture makes no direct mention of Simon of Cyrene after the Resurrection. Tradition states Simon went to Egypt & shared the Gospel. After that, according to the apocryphal Acts of Simon & Judas, Simon was martyred in 100 A.D by being cut in half with a saw.
Cyrenians, however, are mentioned in Acts 6:9. They are of the group who disputed with Stephen as he did “great wonders & signs among the people” (Acts 6:8). ...
Mark’s Gospel states Simon bore two sons (Rufus & Alexander). This fact does not assert the sons were with Simon, nor does it mean the Rufus mentioned in Romans 16:13 or the Alexander cited in 1 Timothy 1:20 or 2 Timothy 4:14 are Simon’s sons. Yet Mark references them for a reason of which we are not aware & may never be.
Simon was there. He carried the cross of Christ. All the facts as recorded in the Bible are written by God’s design (2Timothy 3:16-17). May we all—with a remembrance of what Jesus did for us—bear our own crosses daily.
From Encyclopedia Brittanica: Cyrene, ancient Greek colony in Libya, founded c. 631 BC by a group of emigrants from the island of Thera in the Aegean. Their leader, Battus, became the first king, founding the dynasty of the Battiads, whose members, named alternately Battus & Arcesilaus, ruled Cyrene for eight generations (until c. 440 BC). Under their rule, the city prospered economically & expanded, establishing its port of Apollonia (Marsa Sūsah) & the towns of Barce (al-Marj) & Euhesperides, or Berenice (Banghāzī).🔥
(end of part of article)
When it mentions Benghazi, that got my attention! Wow!
A.W.Tozer speaks of dying to self, in a short teaching on the "Old Cross and the New". He states, " the heart that learns to die with Christ soon knows the blessed experience of rising with Him, and all the world's persecutions cannot still the high note of holy joy that springs up in the soul that has become the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit."
"Simply, we must repent & believe. He must forsake his sins, & then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his/her head before the stroke of God's stern displeasure & acknowledge himself worthy to die."
..Further he states, "We who preach the gospel must not think ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ & the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, or the world of sports, or modern education. We are not diplomats, but PROPHETS, & our message is not a compromise, but an ultimatum." Remember that Jesus said, "Do not suppose that I came to bring peace, but rather a sword!"
Years ago I did a study on jewels at the behest of the pastoress in the Foursquare church. And This part is about Ruth. As it relates to Christ & the Bride & in part, the carrying of our cross.
Boaz & Ruth - Christ and His bride (Ruth 3:1-11a) Boaz was the son of Salmon & Rahab, & his name means "In Him is Strength" Boaz is a type of Jesus, our Kinsman-Redeemer. Ruth means "friendship" & is a type of the gentile bride of Christ grafted in to the vine. Naomi means "My delight" & is symbolic of Israel, the first bride of Christ.
Look at Ruth 3:1 Then Naomi, her mother-in-law said to Ruth, "My daughter, shall I not seek rest or a home for you, that you may prosper?" Rest symbolizes refreshing, relaxation, cessation from work.
Home - is a symbol of God our dwelling place (habitation), the church and the 'Way', as Paul called it. v.2) And now is not Boaz, with whose maidens you were, our relative? See he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor.
Winnowing- in Hebrew, zarah - means cast away, disperse, fan, scatter away, spread, strew..
Barley-symbolic of poverty, lowliness, low reputation, Passover harvest
Threshing-symbol of separation, trampling underfoot, chastening, judgment.
Here is a picture of Christ & the work of the cross, casting away our separation from God, our judgment & punishment for sin, our poverty.
Ruth 3:3) Wash & annoint yourself, therefore, & put on your best clothes & go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he is finished eating & drinking.
This reminds me of the wedding feast parable & the symbolism of Christ washing the feet of the disciples, shedding His outer garments. Ruth representing the bride must clean herself, prepare herself for going to Him.
Eating- symbol of meditation or digestion of food, &
Drinking - symbol of imbibing, & fellowship.
v.4) But when he lies down, notice the place where he lies; then go & uncover his feet, & lie down; & he will tell you what to do. (Tradition in Jewish culture )
Lie down -symbol of sleep, rest, refreshment , spiritual indifference, or physical death, or death of the flesh.
Uncover - expose
Feet -symbol of walk, conduct, formal possession
I believe this is a beautiful picture of Christ our Redeemer, laying down His life for us, & the bride is told to go lie down & uncover his feet. In Jewish tradition this is an action for betrothal.
And in this scripture we as the bride are to also die to self, to rest & be refreshed by His sacrifice, to walk the way He walked & to depend on HIM for what to do. Dependency on God is a major qualification for sonship.
Jesus said, unless you become as little children you will not enter the kingdom of God. The scriptures also say repent so that times of refreshing may come upon you. Death to our flesh is a requirement for power that comes through refreshing. We are also told the Comforter will come & He will lead you into all truth.
v.5-7) & Ruth said to her, all that you say to me, I will do. So, she went down to the floor & did all her mother-in-law told her. And when Boaz had eaten & drunk, & his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then Ruth came softly, & uncovered his feet & lay down.
Grain- 6872 (from 6887); [a parcel (as packed up); also a kernel or particle (as if a package); bag, bundle, least grain, small stone]----6887 (prim root); [to cramp (lit. or fig.) & ADVERSARY, to be in affliction, besiege, bind up, distress, enemy, narrower, oppress, pangs, etc.]
The idea being a kernel of grain, having to die before life can be brought forth. Jesus our Kinsman-Redeemer laid down His life on the heap of grain, our affliction, our sin, our distress-all that our adversary has done to oppress us...that we might be restored to intimacy with God. And the bride responds to this great act of love, by doing the same in dying to self & surrendering her life in the hands of the Living God, in obedience to her Maker, her Protector.
Jesus said He who seeks to save his life will lose it, & he who seeks to lose his life, it will be saved. We are told in scripture that if we suffer with Him, then we will also share in His glory.
v.8) At midnight, the man was startled, & turned over, & behold a woman lay at his feet!
When the bridegroom stirs, & comes at the midnight hour, behold a church, spotless bride, ready in the final hour. The Holy Spirit will make it so through His anointing & cleansing power – through the Spirit of Burning.
v.9) & he said, "Who are you? " & she answered," I am Ruth, your maidservant. Spread your wing (of protection) over your maidservant, for you are next of kin."
Ruth means friendship. The bride will be a friend of God, a prophetic church. The prophets are God's friends, those He has close relationship with & speaks to. The end-times church will be a prophetic church.
Moses said, "I would that all God's people were prophets !"
v.10) And he said, "Blessed be you of the Lord, my daughter; for you have made this last loving-kindness greater than the former, for you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.
This is a picture of the purity of the end-times bride (not going after young men - a virgin) the lack of adultery (meaning idolatry) in the bride.
v.11a) And now, my daughter, FEAR NOT; I will do for you ALL YOU REQUIRE ! (emphasis mine)
This is His promise to us that He will supply all our needs for establishing His kingdom on earth through His riches in glory. He is our RESOURCE for everything we need.
v.15) Also he said, "Bring the mantle you are wearing, & hold it. So [Ruth] held it & he measured out 6 measures of barley, & laid it on her; & she went into the town.
Mantle-symbol of spiritual covering, 6 is the number of man in this case. Barley-symbol of Passover harvest in this example, poverty, lowliness.
In the days ahead Jesus Who is our spiritual covering will pour out onto the bride the fullness of the harvest of the souls of the lame, the outcast, the jeered at,
Skipping to Ruth 4:13-16 it says...
...So Boaz took Ruth, she became his wife; & he went into her, & the Lord caused her to conceive, & she bore a son. And the women said to Naomi (symbolic of Israel)," Blessed be the Lord, Who has not left you this day without a close kinsman, & may his name be famous in Israel. And may he be to you a Restorer of Life & a nourisher and support of your old-age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you who is better to you than 7 sons has born him! Then Naomi took the child laid him in her bosom, & became his nurse.
Now Naomi was old...and SHE becomes his wetnurse? What is in this? Son-offspring of the bride, fruit of her womb, fruit she bears is restoration, reconciliation. This bride of Christ in the end-times is about to give birth also; to Christ in us, the Hope of glory. And the church like the women in this scripture says to Israel represented by Naomi, the Lord has not abandoned you. Spiritual Israel is composed of Jewish & Gentile believers (The One new man). Ruth being espoused is better to Naomi than 7 sons means I believe-more loving, & faithful than the fullness of Israel, for the Holy Spirit has birthed that in her. Ruth is more fruitful; the Bride is to be made without spot or wrinkle, by the power of the Holy Spirit Himself. And Naomi in v. 16, nurses the child in her bosom which I believe represents gentiles & Jews coming to the Lord. The bosom represents a place of nurturing & love. So the OFFSPRING is nurtured & (accepted) by Naomi...Hallelujah!!
So then, BACK TO THE CROSS carrying of Simon:
If Simon was indeed a Black Jew, like one pastor I heard say,
because his nickname was Niger (Black) The pastor even suggested Niger could have been the origin of “nigger” used here for black slaves!! whoa!
When I was in India, it was surprising to me that even there among dark skinned people they kind of make fun of the more darkly skinned of their own people. So this doesn’t seem so far off to me.
And if so, Could it be that this Jewish, black man, Simon, could represent that nation, carrying also the cross of identification with Jesus, because they rejected the Lord of Glory, till He is revealed to them? I’m thinking outloud here.
Or as All of us, being black (meaning sinful) having to carry our crosses like him. Paul in Colossians 1 AMPC says:
22 Yet now has [Christ, the Messiah] reconciled [you to God] in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you holy & faultless & irreproachable in His [the Father’s] presence. 23 [And this He will do] provided that you continue to stay with & in the faith [in Christ], well-grounded & settled & steadfast, not shifting or moving away from the hope [which rests on & is inspired by] the glad tidings (the Gospel), which you heard & which has been preached [as being designed for & offered without restrictions] to every person under heaven, & of which [Gospel] I, Paul, became a minister.
24 [Even] now I rejoice in the midst of my sufferings on your behalf. And in my own person I am making up whatever is still lacking & remains to be completed [on our part] of Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church.
Why did Paul say this last part?..Jesus on the cross said “IT IS FINISHED!”
And that is true that He completed the work, but we are called to die also to self. And Intercession is part of the call on apostles & prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists for the sake of the believers, & on all believers who want to follow Jesus Christ. We BEAR ONE ANOTHER’S burdens as intercessors with JESUS. Thus we bear our crosses.
Complete Jewish Bible says: 24 I rejoice in my present sufferings on your behalf! Yes, I am completing in my own flesh what has been lacking of the Messiah’s afflictions, on behalf of his Body, the Messianic Community.
Colossians 1:24 Authorized King James Version
24 who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
SO many have been living out Job in a sense or other great people of the bible, carrying the cross for the unbelieving church, & the unbelieving sinners, their family members, or others they help. Some have suffered because they have not been healed as needed, & some have suffered because of the pride of man in their flesh. But all have who are His true disciples like Donna was told, have had to carry our cross.
Like Simon, sometimes it is not willingly, but forced upon us, sacrificially. I’m certain that, that is what led Simon to become a follower. How could you do that, & see the extent of His suffering, & not be affected?? We tend in America to think we can escape the carrying of our cross. But God is saying, we MUST. Others in the world have been suffering for centuries. We are not better than they. We should know if it were not for the apostasy in some churches, because we are people of the “BOOK” like mus lims call us.
Thus the title of this.
Must hear - many need to hear this truth - came up on my utube
♥️♥️ Priscilla Van Sutphin
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; & through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.
Isaiah 43:2 NKJV