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Pressed into Service
My “Damascus Road” Encounter

Pressed into Service

On this second Sunday of Lent, the fourth Sunday of Black History Month, I (Mark) have been thinking about a man from North Africa, Simon of Cyrene. Simply “a passer-by coming from the country,” he found himself “pressed into service” by Roman soldiers, “to bear [Jesus’] cross.” (Mk 15:21) It seems that he did not sign up for it, volunteer for it, or ask for it. Rather it was forced upon him. While Jesus had previously called upon His followers to take up their crosses, for Simon, his cross was Jesus’ cross.

Thirteen years ago this morning, while sitting in a rocking chair by our front door in Millersville, PA, a knock at the door signaled that it was time for Kristin and me to leave for the hospital for Victoria Grace’s birth. Right before the knock, I came upon the words of Jesus that he spoke right before He would face His trial and crucifixion: “. . . the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here” (Jn 14:30–31).

We got up, and we followed Him. We did not sign-up, volunteer, or ask to bear that cross. But for thirteen years now, He has gone before us and with us, in the midst of our grief revealing His resurrection life and hope—His victory by His grace.

With all of Victoria’s friends and family near and far, with whatever crosses that we carry this day—burdens we did not sign up, volunteer, or ask for—may we view our crosses as Jesus’ cross. Like Simon, pressed upon us not by choice, let us “carry behind Jesus” (Lk 23:26) into His death and resurrection life. And so, “Get up, let us go from here.”