My wife spent several years working for a company which received VIP passes to sporting events. During a four year span, my family and I got infield passes to the Nascar Race at Dover Downs, a.k.a. the Monster Mile. These tickets gave me access to see victory lane, the pit crew area and a meet and greet with a driver, Ryan Newman. Two years later, my wife received Club House passes to Tiger Woods’ PGA Tour event in Washington D.C. During a rain delay, I talked with a caddie who was eating lunch on the patio, waiting for his player to hole a short putt for par on the 18th green. These experiences brought me inside the ropes, getting up close and personal with professional athletes and their inner circle.
When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in [to the city] from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus. 27 Following Him was a large crowd of the people, including women who were mourning and wailing for Him. 28 But Jesus, turning toward them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not given birth, and the breasts that have never nursed,’ Luke 23:26-29.
The Bible has several examples of individuals gaining access inside the ropes. The passage above details a man who didn’t volunteer. Rather, Simon became a part of Jesus’ crucifixion story, sent in to carry the cross for Jesus when his strength faltered. Due to Jewish ceremonial rules, crucifixions took place outside the city gates on a hill called Golgotha. The passage above doesn’t detail how long Simon carried Jesus’ cross, but based upon the topography of Jerusalem this likely occurred while going up a steep hill. This is the first and last reference of Simon of Cyrene in the Bible, yet its a subtle way of how the Lord could use individuals who make themselves available to serve God.
I assure you and most solemnly say to you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and walked wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and arms, and someone else will dress you, and carry you where you do not wish to go.” 19 Now He said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And after saying this, He said to him, “Follow Me [walk the same path of life that I have walked]!” – John 21:18-19
While Simon of Cyrene was inside the ropes, another Simon, a member of Jesus’ inner circle was hiding. Fearful that they might face the same fate as Jesus, all the disciples except John watched from a distance. Prior to news of Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples were hiding in a room, wondering what they were going to do now that Jesus was dead. According to John 21, Peter went back to his former trade, staying up all night fishing. A man on shore gave Peter insight about where the fish were. Initially skeptical, Peter begrudgingly agrees to follow his advice culminating in a record catch. Immediately following this, Jesus forgives Peter for his public denial. In the passage above, Jesus prophesies about Peter’s death, crucified upside down. As the Holy Spirit provides believers to access inside the ropes, God expects great things to those who follow the same path as Jesus.
by Jay Mankus