Simon of Cyrene

I could scarce believe my ears
As the Roman soldier said:
“You there, stranger, lift that cross,
Follow Jesus, good as dead.”

I had missed the troubled crowd,
Having just come into town.
Now I pressed beneath the load,
Joined to him who wore a crown.

All around humanity,
Yet my thoughts were fixed on him.
Why the back ripped to the bone?
Why the cruel and thorny brim?

How he struggled to ascend!
How he laboured for his breath!
Yet I sensed his body strove
T’ward the hill marked for his death.

It became a strange desire
To relieve his tortured frame;
To receive the brunt of burden,
But to go on just the same.

I was reckoning in me
A compassion yet unknown,
While he nobly took the taunts:
“Where’s your kingdom? Where’s your throne?”

Momentarily we stopped
To console dear grieving friends.
In his voice was total calm,
Real concern for their lives’ ends.

Then, too soon, my privilege passed.
We had come to Calvary.
“Thank you friend,” he gazed at me,
Then they nailed him to the tree!

Oh, the truth welled up in me!
Could the blinded mob not see?
Here their sin’s death penalty.
Here the Crux of Destiny.
In the man from Galilee.
In my friend who hung for me.

There were two who shared his plight,
Robbers, bearing each his cross.
One would hail him Lord of Light.
One would chose eternal loss.

And such love etched on his face
For the dogs who pierced and nailed.
And a priestly prayer for grace,
And a final psalm exhaled.

At his death the skies were dark
And the crowd stood hushed and awed.
‘Neath the profile still and stark,
‘Neath the battered Son of God.

And a soldier lowered his head
With a sense of grief and shame;
For the gentle one now dead,
For the folk who were to blame.

And another thrust him through
With a spear to his right side;
Though already we all knew
That the Holy One had died.

And a woman beat her breast
As she looked upon her son.
And her sobs held one request,
Just what evil had he done?

How was I then to expect
That in three days news would ring
Of the tombstone rolled away?
Of the resurrected King!

But his converts would explain
That for months the rabbi said,
That Messiah must be slain
And then risen from the dead.

So, I give to you my joy.
From my sin I am set free!
And my praise I will employ
For the one who died for me:

Simon, stranger, lift that cross.
Follow Jesus good as dead.
I will follow him forever,
Living for my Lord instead.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me

(Picture by Michael Godard)


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