Boston College runner Madeline Adams was just 200 feet away from finishing the ACC cross country championship race. Just as she was achieving her personal best time, she felt her body collapse due to exhaustion. Her rival Evie Tate from Clemson noticed Adams struggling to stand. In a display of extraordinary sportsmanship, Tate sacrificed her finishing position to put her arm under Adams. Louisville’s Rachel Pease saw both women stumbling, took Adams’s other arm, and assisted until all three competitors crossed the finish line.
In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the writers record how the Roman soldiers forced a man named Simon to help Jesus carry the crossbeam up to Golgotha. It is unclear why they chose Simon from the crowd. Perhaps he had demonstrated compassion or maybe he looked different. No matter the reason he was chosen for the task, Simon did what was asked and helped Jesus get to the ultimate finish line.
This close encounter with our Savior changed him. Simon was born in northern Africa in the city of Cyrene. The Cyrenian Jews had a synagogue in Jerusalem, so it was likely that Simon was there to celebrate Passover. Simon eventually went home and shared his experience with his wife and sons, Alexander and Rufus (v. 21). The inclusion of their names suggests they were well known as early Christian leaders. While we don’t know the rest of Simon’s story, we do know that eventually, Rufus and his mom would meet up with Paul. This mother and son duo encouraged Paul in his faith and most likely shared Simon’s story of the time he helped to carry Jesus’ cross. Rufus’s mom became a surrogate mother to Paul, and Paul looked forward to reuniting with them in Rome (Rom. 16:13).
>> How can you carry someone else’s burden today? Sometimes we fail to notice the needs directly around us. Today, look for opportunities to lighten someone else’s load. You may never know the ripple effect one small act of compassion can have.
We all know what it’s like to be overwhelmed with responsibilities. Open our eyes to see small ways we can lighten someone else’s burdens. May these small acts of service communicate Your loving kindness.