Kaleidoscope: the Crucifixion as viewed by Simon of Cyrene
We asked a myriad of voices to engage the crucifixion as if they were one of the characters present and write from that perspective. We gathered last week for an amazing collective of perspectives that ranged from a diverse, colorful eclectic group of people gazing at the cross. We will post each character and their angle as we approach Easter. Enjoy!
My name is Simon, and I’m from a town to the far West from Jerusalem called Cyrene. Here is my account of what happened on Passover, the year the veil was split in two.
I had arrived in Jerusalem just hours before the crowds assembled outside of Pilot’s court. I asked around, and found out that the one I had been hearing of for some time, this “Jesus of Nazareth” was being held accountable for claiming to be the Messiah. I was annoyed, and even a bit upset, because I had traveled some 900 miles over the period of an entire month, battling through storms, and potentially getting robbed or murdered by thieves to celebrate passover! I did not appreciate the distraction of this trial on such a day as this!
It was difficult to make my way through the city to get the things I needed to get for the meal. I was exhausted from my long journey, and eager to enjoy this sacred time with my relatives that I was staying with. Needless to say, things escalated, and I could hear the crowd yelling and saying something in unison. I wasn’t close enough to understand the words, but I could hear anger and excitement in their tones.
Some hours later, while I was a good distance away from Pilot’s court, I was talking with my cousins about my journey from my home to Jerusalem, when we suddenly heard yelling. People all around started scrambling to the road to try and see what was happening. Everyone began lining the streets, and I could see down the hill that there was a large group of people traveling up the road towards us. I could make out lots of Roman soldiers, and many Pharisees. There were also lots of others people following, both citizens of Jerusalem, and others who had traveled like me to come and observe Passover.
I had thought I was far enough away to separate myself from this whole ordeal, but I was very wrong. I quickly realized what was happening, and I was both incredibly angry and very curious. Angry that I was right in the way of where this party was heading, and curious to see who this Jesus was. This man was the talk of the town, when it should have been Passover!
I headed up to the side of the road, and pushed my way to the front, so I could get a good look at the man who was the cause of all this commotion. The Roman soldiers were a wall around him, and there were Pharisees in front and behind the group. As they approached, I jumped up to see this Jesus, but the old man in front of me lost his balance as I landed on him when I came down. A Roman guard shoved the old man out of the way when he stumbled into the road, and the next thing I knew I had been grabbed by that same soldier and thrown into the inside of the circle they created around this Jesus!
I was scared and angry, but I forgot about all that for a brief moment when I saw Him. He had fallen onto his side trying to carry the cross that I was sure they were going to hang him on. His face was covered in sweat and dried blood from the wreath thorns that were jammed atop his head. There was so much dirt and blood all over his body that I couldn’t even tell where all of his wounds were. His cross was covered in blood and bits of skin from His back. I had heard that he had been given many lashes. I don’t know how long I was staring at Him, but I was stirred from my fixation on this mess of a man by that same guard who grabbed me. He was screaming at me to pick up this man’s cross, and to carry it for him. I didn’t even answer. My eyes kept darting from the guard to Him. All I could think of was His blood. It would make me unclean, and all of this journey, and time, and sacrifice for Passover would all be for nothing. Because I had not moved, the guard finally he struck my back with his shield, and I stumbled towards Him. The guard yelled that he would kill me if I didn’t pick it up right then.
In a panic, I took the last few steps over to this Jesus, and lifted the cross off of Him. I was trying very hard not to touch any of His blood, but it was everywhere. I even wadded up my cloak to try and use it as a shield between me and the blood, but there was just too much. When the blood touched me, I felt defeated, but I knew I had to keep walking up the hill. After a few minutes, I started to worry that I was going to be killed along with this man. I started to panic, and thought for a brief moment that I could escape, but I decided not to try.
When I finally reached the top of the hill, I fell over from sheer exhaustion. Some of the guards grabbed the cross from on top of me, and I was just left there struggling for breath. I realized then that I was safe, so I got up as fast as I could to flee back to my cousin’s home where I was staying. I don’t know why, but as I got up to leave, I turned back to look at the man who was to be crucified on the cross I had been carrying. He was staring right at me! I froze. There was something odd about Him. He didn’t look scared and defeated as I would have thought. He looked sad, but it seemed separate from His obvious pain.