SIMON! HOLD THAT CROSS

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story based on Biblical fact- Simon of Cyrene carrying the Cross of Jesus

 

SIMON! HOLD THAT CROSS

(A short story based on Biblical fact- Simon of Cyrene carrying the Cross of Jesus)

Sitting in front of his modest dwelling in the Jewish quarter of Cyrene, Simon was busy preparing for the long voyage that lay ahead for him. He was to start for Jerusalem the next morning. Nothing new in that, for Simon had been to Jerusalem a couple of times before as a trader.  But Jerusalem was too far away and it was not possible to make the arduous journey often. To ensure safety, nobody travelled alone; it was always a caravan of traders with their camels laden with goods for trade. Simon however had much more to look forward in this journey than mere trade. Like every other devout Jew, it was Simon’s dream to celebrate the feast of Passover in the holy city of Jerusalem at least once in the lifetime. Simon whistled as he packed his bedding, clothes and merchandise and loaded it on the camel.

“Father, could you bring me David’s harp from Jerusalem?” Simon turned around. It was his son Rufus. In Jerusalem’s bazaars everything was available and Simon knew that David’s harp was a popular musical item which was sold there. “Yes my son, I will surely get it for you” said Simon, lovingly caressing the curls of his son. “And go ask Alexander what he wants.” Alexander was Rufus’s brother, Simon’s first born.

The caravan reached Jerusalem safely, without many hindrances on the way, two days before Passover. Simon had done handsomely in trade. He had a free day before the feast and he decided to go the market to buy the Harp he had promised his son, Rufus. But there was something in the air in Jerusalem that made him uneasy. There was more crowd in the streets than necessary. Groups of people stood on the pavements, roadside corners and discussed something animatedly between them. Simon turned into the lane where he knew street side vendors sold musical instruments and other knickknacks. He was looking for David’s Harp. Surprisingly the street was bereft of any traders. A passerby whom he asked hurried past him before saying,” You won’t get anyone here today. Everyone is headed to Golgotha, to watch the fun”. Simon returned to the main street. This was the street which turned right to go to Golgotha. He tried to hear what the people were speaking among themselves. There was a middle aged man who said, “I don’t think his crime deserved a punishment as severe as crucifixion.” He was immediately countered by a young man who retorted,” He said he was God. Isn’t that blasphemy? He invited this upon himself”. Simon observed that there were a lot of people who looked very sad and some women wept loudly.

As Simon stood among the crowd, he heard an uproar and commotion down the street. He saw Roman soldiers trying to clear the road and ushering onlookers to the sides. Then he saw a man in the centre of the street who was being booed, sworn at and spat on by a mob with blood in their eyes. He tried to make his way forward to get a better view. He lent his ear to the conversations around him and gathered that the man was called Jesus of Nazareth. But who was he and what was his crime, Simon wondered. A man next to him who seemed to be in tears told him, “I am a follower of this man and I am unable to comprehend why he has been subjected to this cruelty”

Simon edged forward till he could get a clear view. What he saw made his heart sink and his blood freeze. In front of him hobbled a man subjected to the gravest of physical assault and cruelty. His face and eyes were covered with streams of dried and fresh blood oozing from what seemed like twisted circular ring of a thorny bush pushed into his head. His body was a mass of bloodied ribbons of flesh stuck to purple pieces of cloth, which was all that was left of his gown. And then that huge wooden cross on his shoulders which lacerated his wounds further. He was egged on by whips to climb uphill with that weight, while his tattered legs wobbled and struggled to keep himself upright. It was a losing battle and as he struggled inch by inch, he landed twice on the ground like a felled tree, only to be kicked and abused back into a standing position.

Something lighted up in Simon’s memory. Four months ago, Romanius, a merchant from Cyrene had returned after having travelled for some months in Palestine. He had told how a young man, the son of a carpenter from Nazareth had put the most learned priests and scribes into the shade by his knowledge of and interpretation of the scriptures. He had told how he had made a blind man see, the lame walk, and bring a dead man back to life. Simon was shocked. Wasn’t this Jesus, the same man?  But then why has been this man of God been condemned to this grisly fate?

Jesus had fallen again in a tangled heap. The heavy cross lay on his head pinning him to the ground. Despite all the abuses and kicks showered on him, he appeared to be too physically drained and exhausted to make it. Simon was close to two of the Roman soldiers and he overheard them talking.

 “I don’t think this man will be able to walk now. We need to crucify him before the Passover or the Jews will create public unrest and we will have to answer to Caesar.”“I know, “said the other,” but who will carry this heavy cross for him till Golgotha?”

“Hey you, you come here” an authoritative voice was heard somewhere near. As Simon turned to look he saw that it was the Roman centurion Marcus. He was pointing towards Simon. Nonplussed, Simon looked around him. “Hey I want you. Come and pick up this cross and carry it for this man.” 

“No, no!” said Simon, I cannot do this. Let me go. I have…..!” Before he could say more two soldiers grabbed Simon and brought him into the middle of the road.

Within him Simon fumed and cursed the Roman centurion. Touching that cross or that man would have defiled him and he would not be eligible for taking part in the Passover. All the trouble and time taken by him to arrive in Jerusalem for Passover was to go waste now. He looked around to see if he could escape. But the crowd was too thick to make that possible. Resigning himself to his fate, he looked at the fallen man and his cross. His eyes met those of that bruised, tortured, flattened man under the weight of the cross. At that moment something like lightning went through his nerves. It appeared that a circle of divine light had appeared between him and the man in front which made it seem that he and the man were the only two people present there. In the eyes of that man he saw everything that was divine, he saw mercy, and he saw love, tenderness and forgiveness. He felt a spiritual invigoration envelope his body. He felt like a new man. Simon bent down. His strong muscular arms lifted the Cross off the man’s back. Then he gently helped him get up on his feet. Heaving the Cross on his own shoulders, Simon started on his way to Calvary.

* * * **

“Father, look I am back”. An aged Simon turned to see his son Rufus standing beside him. Rufus had been away for months travelling far and wide with Paul to spread the Good News. Simon was glad to see him after a long time. He vividly remembered that day in Jerusalem. After Jesus had breathed his last on the Cross, darkness had enveloped the city. The earth had shaken and fearful people had fled for their lives. Simon too returned to the inn, shaken. His muscles ached with the strain of carrying that heavy Cross up to Calvary. But witnessing the crucifixion and death of Jesus had drained physically and emotionally, it was not long before he lapsed into a deep slumber. And then that dream! But it never felt like a dream. It was as if he had been awakened and made to listen to a voice from the heavens. “You are the blessed one Simon”, the voice had said. “Throughout the centuries, till the end of the world, whenever the passion and crucifixion of the Son of God will be spoken of, you will be remembered. Yours will be an eternal memory on earth Simon”. From that day onwards Simon and his family had accepted Jesus. And his two sons Rufus and Alexander, now adults, had made it their mission to spread the Gospel throughout the world.

It was Rufus again. “See Father, I have brought something”. A chord was struck accompanied by the melodious voice of Rufus singing a psalm. He was playing David’s Harp. Simon too joined him as they both sang in concert to praise the Lord.


Submitted: April 01, 2021

© Copyright 2021 julius deepak. All rights reserved.

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