"Even if I have to die with you, I will not disown you." said Simon Peter.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
"Simon, carry my cross."
And Simon stepped forward. The Cyrenian was recruited to Jesus' cause when Peter had deserted him. The Carpenter must have been used to carrying wooden burdens, but the scourging had weakened him. He could have called on Angels to assist him. Instead, someone chose a North African, the father of Rufus and Alexander; the same Rufus of whom Paul wrote, "Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me too."?
"Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory." demanded James and John.
"You do not know what you are asking," Jesus said, "Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with?"
"To sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared."
Were you, James and John, there when they crucified my Lord?
They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who were crucified with him also heaped insults upon him.
Everyone had deserted him and fled. He was alone on the cross. One by one the prophesies were fulfilled. "Scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. A band of evil men surround me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not. He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities and the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed."
Were you there? No, of course not. Would you have been there? Only among the scoffers. Will you be there? By God's grace.
Give us the grace, O God, to stand alongside Jesus, to walk beside Him, to carry our crosses, to accept suffering and not to complain, to show forth His glory.