This is compassion

10/04/09 | Posted by Vicky

It's nearly two o'clock in the morning, and I'm struggling to keep my eyelids open. I'm awake for a reason. On this night Christians remember something that happened in the small hours just before Jesus' arrest. Before the soldiers came to get him, Jesus went out to an olive garden on the edge of the city, a garden known as Gethsemane. Knowing what was about to happen, and getting very agitated, he said to his friends, "I'm hurting to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

He knelt down to pray. In the dark garden he struggled with the terrible fear that was threatening to overwhelm him, the fear of loneliness and pain and death. Sleepy from all the wine that they had drunk at the Passover celebrations earlier in the evening and anxious over Jesus’ strange behaviour, his disciples fell asleep. Jesus tried to wake them up a couple of times, but they were too drowsy to keep him company. That was how the soldiers found him.

A lot of the time I behave in a similar way towards people who need some time and compassion. I don’t know how to help, so I don’t help. I shut my eyes. But tonight I’m awake.

 Simon helps Jesus

The following day Jesus was condemned to death by crucifixion. This was a particularly drawn out and humiliating method of execution that was reserved by the Roman rulers for slaves, rebels, and petty criminals. The cross was placed on Jesus’ shoulders, which were already torn and bleeding from the beatings that he had received, and he began the slow and painful journey to the place of execution. Thirsty and weak, he fell over repeatedly. The soldiers, worried that he might die before they arrived at the execution ground, plucked a bystander from the crowd in the street and ordered him to help Jesus with the cross. His name was Simon.

I have a picture of this moment on my bedroom wall. It shows two men, their faces haggard and anxious, bent almost double beneath the beam of the cross. Their arms are wrapped round each other.

Like the disciples in the garden, Simon couldn’t do anything to change the situation. He couldn’t make it OK. But he took that cross on his shoulders and walked next to Jesus. Unlike the disciples, he realised that compassion is not always about what you can accomplish. Sometimes it’s about simply being there.


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Tomorrow is Good Friday and I’ve barely given it a thought. Not until I read this post.  Jesus has been my friend since I was 4 years old and now in the later journey of my life, I find myself wanting to know what is it I’ve exactly believed for most of my life.

This account of Jesus and Simon not only brings me back to the authenticity of Jesus’ cruxifiction, but to the authenticity of having a cup of coffee with a friend.

#1. By Melissa on April 10, 2009

you know, I’ve always been so captivated by this vignette in Jesus’s journey to the cross…the unexpected availability of Simon of Cyrene stirs something inside of me.

Thank you for sharing about your night of prayer, as well as your reflections…

Much peace (:

#2. By Denisse... on April 11, 2009




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