The passage can be read here.
There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says; ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. The moral of the proverb is of course, in order to do anything you have to make a start. Jesus’ long journey was coming to an end. We are not sure when his journey began. Max Lucado in “And the Angels Were Silent” wrote:
“The way Jesus marched to his death leaves no doubt: he had come to earth for this moment. The journey to the cross had begun long before leaving Jericho. As the echo of the crunching of the fruit was still sounding in the Garden of Eden, Jesus was leaving for Calvary.”
It was a long journey, from heaven to earth, from glory to suffering. It went through Bethlehem, the wilderness, Gethsemane and a whipping post. It was a journey that ended at the cross.
There are many facts to be gleaned regarding our Lord’s last journey. There are other things which were probably added at a later date, the Gospels make no mention of Jesus falling or meeting Veronica for instance. It was customary for a condemned man to be made to carry his own cross and Jesus must have done that for part of the way (John 19:17) but the soldiers also forced a passer-by to carry the cross of our Lord Jesus. When we consider what he had already endured, their reason for doing so becomes obvious. He had gone at least one night without sleep, suffered the beating by the Jewish leaders when he was blindfolded, been flogged by the Roman soldiers, this alone was often enough to kill a man (Pilate ordered the flogging in the hope that it would satisfy the crowd so it would have been severe) and he’d had a crown of thorns forced onto his head. I think any of us enduring that sort of punishment would be suffering the physical effects of shock.
The fact that three Gospel writers name Simon of Cyrene, that Luke and Mark knew what he was doing and that Mark knew the names of his sons, Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15:21), suggests that Simon was known to the early Christians. It’s fair to assume then, since Mark was writing to Roman Christians, he named the sons in his Gospel because one of them, Rufus, was a member of the Church in Rome (Romans 16:13). Simon may have been the first to look upon the suffering Lord Jesus and be changed, he certainly wasn’t the last.
The Lord Jesus would certainly have looked a physical mess by this point yet he still gave a compassionate warning to the women who were weeping as they watched him. He had warned on the fate of Jerusalem before, he had longed to gather the city to himself but the people were unwilling. They had chanted ‘away with him, crucify him!’ God was going to remove his protection on the city and the suffering would be immense. The plea for the mountains to fall on us is a prayer for protection not for death (Hosea 10:8).
The final verse states simply;
“Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.”
Jesus was the best. No one else has ever been without sin. No one else has ever lived in a sinful world and still remained righteous. Everything he did was good, he healed, he gave hope and came to serve fallen people but they placed him with the worst. Seven hundred years before, Isaiah had spoken of the Servant of the Lord who would give his life for the people and he stated; ‘he was numbered with the transgressors’ (Isaiah 53:12).
“Come and see, come and see
Come and see the King of love
See the purple robe and crown of thorns he wears
Soldiers mock, rulers sneer
As he lifts the cruel cross
Lone and friendless now he climbs towards the hill.” (Graham Kendrick)