Monday, October 17, 2016

Never the Same

         Can you imagine being a 13-year-old kid tagging along with your Dad as he traveled to the big city?

         A devout Jewish father traveled by foot from his small town to Jerusalem every year for Passover. One year Rufus and his brother, Alexander, were old enough to travel with him.
         When they arrived, the city was crowded with people and animals.The noise, the smell, the people and animals pressed against them as they tried to walk through the narrow street. The noise grew louder and Rufus could tell there was some type of commotion happening up the street from them.
         They heard shouting and Roman soldiers with whips pushed people out of the way to make room for a procession. The crowd pressed back against each other to make room. The father kept his arms around his sons, so they wouldn’t get lost in the crowed. He looked for another way to go, or a side street for them to turn onto, but they were trapped in the throng of people unable to move.
         As the crowd parted to make room for the soldiers, the boys and their father were on the front row, closest to the street. The brothers looked to see what was going on and to their horror, there was a man who had been beaten beyond recognition attempting to drag two pieces of wood tied together. The man’s eyes were swollen shut. Blood streamed down his face from the thorns crammed into his forehead. He stumbled and fell to his knees under the weight of the wood.
         As the procession grew closer, people gasped at the flesh hanging off the man, where he had been whipped almost to death. The man staggered and fell to his knees again. Surely the man would die right there in the middle of the street, Rufus thought. How could he go on? He was too weak and badly beaten.
         When the Roman soldiers were directly in front of Rufus and his brother, their Dad tried to shield them from the horror of the brutalized man. Suddenly, a soldier yelled toward them,                                                                
“Carry his cross!”

         Nobody knew who he was talking to, until the angry soldier grabbed their Dad by his cloak and pulled him out of the crowd and away from his sons. The boys screamed, but it was drowned out by the shouts and screams of the crowd. The soldier pushed their Dad toward the fallen piece of wood.
 “Carry his cross!”, he demanded again.

         Holding onto each other, the boys were carried along by the crowd, as they followed their father, who was now at the front of the procession. They watched as their tall father lifted the heavy beam and dragged it along the street. The man’s blood and sweat from the wood dripped down onto their Dad’s shoulders. What was going to happen to their Dad? Why was he picked out of the crowd? What did he do to deserve this? They wondered.

         The soldiers pulled the beaten man to his feet and continued to push him along the street. Everyone followed. When they reached a hill outside the city gates, the boys gasped in terror! There were two other wooden beams, standing upright, with men, who were still alive, nailed to them.
         The boys began to cry. Was their Dad going to be nailed to the cross he was carrying? No! It couldn’t be! This couldn’t be happening to him!
         As their Dad reached the place between the two crucified men, a soldier motioned for him to lay the cross down. Exhausted, he placed it on the ground. The soldiers pushed their Dad out of the way and grabbed the beaten man, who already looked near death. The boys had never seen anything, man or animal, as bloodied as that man.
         The soldiers threw the man down on the cross. He screamed out as they nailed his hands and feet to the wood. Then, they lifted the wooden cross upright, so the crowd could see the crucified man.
         Their Dad searched the crowd and finding his sons, knelt down and wrapped his big arms around them. The crucified man’s blood was still wet on his cloak. He hugged his sons and told them they were safe now and everything would be alright.
         Only everything was not alright. The three of them left the crowd and walked back into the city. Six hours later, the sky turned black and there was an earthquake. People said the man whose cross their Dad carried, was finally dead.
         The boys and their father were never the same. They returned to their hometown of Cyrene, but not before they heard the news. Three days after the crucified man was laid in a tomb, his body was missing. A woman found the huge entrance stone rolled away from the tomb, and the man, whose name they learned was Jesus, was no longer there.
         The man who carried the cross of Jesus was named Simon. He, his sons and their mother were never the same after their encounter with Jesus.

How do we know they were never the same? Because more than 30 years later, Paul mentioned Rufus and his mother in his letter to the believers in Rome, who were part of the early church.

“A man named Simon was passing by. He was from Cyrene. He was the father of Alexander and Rufus. Simon was on his way in from the country. The soldiers forced him to carry the cross.” Mark 15:21

“Greet Rufus. He is a chosen believer in the Lord. And greet his mother.
She has been like a mother to me too.” Romans 16:13

Many people in the Bible were changed when they had an encounter with Jesus. Simon and his sons would never be the same.

Can you imagine being there and being forced to carry the cross of Christ?

This is Day 17 of the 31 Days of Change series.If you would like to read previous year's series, click here to read about Our Adoption Adventure. Click here to read about Hearing God. If you would like to read other blogs and different topics you can go to
Day 1:   He Did What?!
Day 9:   Depression to Joy
Day 12:  Holding His Hand
Day 13:  Changed
Day 17:  Never the Same
Day 18:  The C Word
Day 19:   Punk to Pastor
Day 21:
Day 23:
Day 24:
Day 25:
Day 26:
Day 27:
Day 27:
Day 28:
Day 29:
Day 30:
Day 31:


  1. This very scripture was mentioned yesterday in our sermon. It's nice to see Simon's story repeated here today! True encounters with Jesus can't help but change us. Thanks for sharing, Robyn!

    1. Thanks Lisa! It is kind of an obscure couple of verses for sure. Just shows us again all scripture is useful for His purposes.

  2. I really love the way your bring the story to life here. I know it was real life, but it happened so long ago and you hear it so often. Seeing it from the eyes of Rufus really brings it home. Wow. Praise God.

  3. Man, I tried commenting from my phone, but it didn't work :(. Thank you for the education--I had no idea that this little sub-drama existed in the Bible!