Simon of Cyrene

PeterHHV   My name is Simon and I grew up in a Jewish community in Cyrene which was located in northern Africa in eastern Libya. Our family had been forced from Judea to settle there during the reign of Ptolemy Soter (323–285 BC). I learned my father’s trade and attended the local synagogue where we studied the Torah and the prophets.

   One of the prophets’ named Isaiah opened my eyes to the coming Messiah. I pondered his reference to the suffering servant and reflected upon the words: “Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath neither form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bares the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.  

   Little did I know that I would witness and be a part of the Messiah’s crucifixion as described by King David in the Psalms? As a practicing, Jew we were required to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem on certain feasts days. My children Alexander and Rufus were old enough to make the nine-hundred mile journey with me for Passover. They carried a lamb from home that they raised and were terrorized by what they saw near the Damascus Gate. Here are the lyrics that describe the event: Watch the Lamb

   Walking on the Road to Jerusalem, The time had come to sacrifice, Again, My two small sons, They walked beside me down the road, The reason that they came, Was to watch the lamb... And they said, "Daddy daddy, What will we see there, There's so much that we don't understand, " So I told them of Moses, And Father Abraham, And I said dear children, "Watch the lamb.... There will be so many, In Jerusalem today, We must be sure this little lamb, Doesn't run away, " And I told them of Moses, And Father Abraham, And I said "Dear children, Watch the lamb.... " When we reached the city, I knew something must be wrong, There were no joyful worshippers there, No joyful worship songs, And I stood there, With my children, In the midst of angry men, Then I heard a crowd cry out, "Let's Crucify Him!" We tried to leave the city, But we could not get away, Forced to play in this drama, A part I did not want to play, Why upon this day were men condemned to die, Why were we standing right here, Where soon they would pass by, I looked and I said, "Even now they come," The first one cried for mercy, The people gave him none, The second one was violent, He was arrogant and loud, I can still hear his angry voice, Screaming at the crowd, Then someone said, "There's Jesus," I scarce believed my eyes, A man so badly beaten, He barely looked alive, Blood poured from His body, From the thorns on His brow, Running down the cross, And falling to the ground, I watched as He struggled, And I watched Him when He fell, The cross came down upon His back, And the crowd began to yell, In that moment I felt such agony, In that moment I felt such loss, Till the roman soldier grabbed my arm and screamed, "YOU! Carry his cross!" At first I tried to resist him, But his hand reached for his sword, So I knelt and I took The cross from the Lord I put it on my shoulders We started down the street And the blood that He'd been shedding, Was running down my cheek... They led us to Golgotha They drove nails, Deep in His feet and hands, And on the cross, I heard him pray, "Father, forgive them..." Never have I seen such love in any other eyes "Into thy hands I commit my spirit," He prayed, and then He died. I stood for what seemed like years, I lost all sense of time, Then I felt these little hands Holding onto mine My children stood there weeping, And I heard the oldest say "Father please forgive us, The lamb, Ran away... Daddy, daddy, what’ve we seen here, There's so much that we don't understand, "So I took them in my arms, we turned and faced the cross and I said "Dear children Watch the lamb... "

   While on the cross during the sixth hour had come there was great darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Elio, Elio, lama sabachthani” which is translated, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.

   At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus' resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"

   Alexander and Rufus became good friends with John Mark and I became involved with the disciples of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the council, went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate summoned the centurion and asked if Jesus had been dead for some time and then granted the body to Joseph. We were made aware of Jesus Christ’s resurrection on the third day, and were witnesses of His ascension into heaven.

   We prayed in the upper room and waited for the Promise of the Father. On the day of Pentecost there suddenly came a sound from heaven, as a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where we were sitting. Then there appeared to us divided tongues, as a fire, and one sat upon each of us. And we were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave us utterance. Our friends from Cyrene heard them speak in their language from the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene.

   My sons and wife became strong believers in Jesus Christ, and we evangelized our community and surrounding areas. History records our work in Cyrene. Twenty-five years after the resurrection the Apostle Paul writes about our son Rufus and the work he was doing in Rome.


Simon's Hearing His Voice Testimony

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