What does it mean when

Simon, a Cyrenian,

bore the cross



John 19:16,17

Luke 23:26


Start by reading John 19:16,17.

Answer these questions:

1.   Verse 16 - Who is "he"?  Pilate.

2.   Verse 16 - Who is "him"?  Jesus Christ.

3.   Verse 16 - Who is "them"?  the multitude and the Roman soldiers led by the Pharisees.

4.   Verse 17 - Who is "he": Jesus  Christ or Simon?

The only way to find the answer to each of the above questions is to examine the four gospels.  In other words, to let scripture interpret scripture.  I have no right to decide who the "he" is in verse 16 or verse 17 without scripture to back it up.

Some say it means Christ carried His own cross, but because of weakness in the flesh, dropped it.  Then Simon was compelled to carry the cross after Jesus dropped it.  This seems to be believed primarily to draw sympathy toward Christ because of the terrible sufferings He had already gone through for our sinfulness.  I believe Christ underwent more sufferings than we can ever possibly imagine, but I don't believe He dropped His cross.  I don't believe He carried the cross even one foot.

Some Related Scripture

1.   Matt. 27:32 - And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.  This passage makes no mention at all concerning whether Jesus dropped His cross and Simon carried it after Christ dropped it.  This passage clearly states that only Simon carried the cross of Christ.

2.   Mark 15:21 - And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.  The same comments made about Matt. 27:32 can be made about this passage.

3.   Luke 23:26 - And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear [it] after Jesus.  This passage clearly reveals that Christ did not carry His cross even one inch.  As they led Jesus away to be crucified, they laid hold upon Simon to bear the cross.  There is no indication that Christ carried the cross at all.

4.   John 19:16, 17 -  Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led [him] away.  17  And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called [the place] of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:

a.   This is the only passage in the entire Bible that anybody could possible use to prove that Jesus carried His cross or that Simon bore it after Christ dropped it.

b.   The amazing thing about this passage is that it doesn't say Christ dropped His cross.  Clearly, there is no passage in the entire Bible that predicts He will drop His cross or any passage that shows that He did drop it.

c.   The key word is "he."  Is this "he," Jesus or Simon?

1.   If we believe the "he" is Jesus (because that word seems to continue the thought of verse 16), we are in error.  We must "jump to the conclusion" that Christ dropped the cross and Simon took it up.  NOTE: There is no scripture in the entire Bible that confirms that Christ dropped the cross.

2.   The fact is that "scripture interprets scripture."

3.   If we let Matt. 27:32 and Mark 15:21 give us an interpretation, we find that Simon carried the cross right from the very start.

What does the word "after" mean?

The word "after" comes from the Greek word "opisthen" which is translated only 7 times in the New Testament.

Four times it is translated "behind":

1.   Matt. 9:20 - The woman with the issue of blood came up behind Jesus and touches Him.  The clear implication is that she wasn't facing Jesus, but came from behind Him, touching His garment believing she would be healed.

2.   Mark 5:26,27 - The same story as in Matt. 9:20.

3.   Luke 8:44 - The same story as in Matt. 9:20.

4.   Rev. 4:6 - This word "behind" is a description of the characters of Jesus Christ as revealed in the four gospels.  The description is given of the "all-seeing" eye of God as He is able to see everything in every place in every time.  The position of the eyes in this passage indicates that the eyes are all around the head.  The word "behind" is compared to the word "before," which means "in front, or that local region which is in front of a person or thing."  The passage reveals that the eyes are in front of and in the back of the head of the beast (living creature) which represents Christ.  The eyes are all in place all the time, not that one eye follows the other in a sequence of time.

Two times it is translated "after":

1.   Matt. 15:23 - This Gentile woman had a daughter who was grievously vexed with a devil, whom Jesus refused to heal at first.  The disciples came to Jesus with her request because she crieth after them.  The word "after" clearly doesn't have any reference to a sequence of events, rather that the woman cried continually to the disciples, begging them to do something about her demon possessed daughter.  The word speaks more of persistence, than a sequence of events.

2.   Luke 23:26 - The passage in question.

One time it is translated "backside":

Rev. 5:1 - This passage speaks about the 7-sealed book held by God, only to be opened by Jesus Christ, the lamb of God, lion of the Tribe of Judah.  The book is written within and on the backside, indicating it is written not only on the pages inside the book, but also on the back cover of the book.  The word "within" means that which is inside.  The word "backside" indicates that which is on the outside.

The Power of Christ's Body On The Cross

1.   John 19:30 - When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.  Some would argue that Christ was so tired and utterly exhausted that he was unable to carry His own cross.  Then explain this verse!  In this place, Jesus is shown to say, "It is finished."  Then He bows His head and gives up the ghost.  Notice His head is upright as he comes to the end of life.  His deliberate action in bowing his head is not a sign of weakness, but of submission.  He gives up the ghost, it is not taken from him.  Stephen, Acts 7:59, prayed that God would receive his spirit because it was being forced from him.  Christ, on the other hand, allowed His spirit to leave His body, else it would never leave!

2.   Matt. 27:50, Mark 15:37 and Luke 23:46 records that Jesus cried with a loud voice "It is finished."  He didn't softly say, "it is finished" as if He had only one breath left in His body.  There was plenty of strength left in Christ because He is God and had total, complete control of His body at all times.  He cried with a loud voice so those in Jerusalem would hear.  It is as if the whole world could hear that the plan of salvation was finally completed.

3.   John 19:28 - After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.  Jesus didn't say "I thirst" only because He was thirsty, but that the scripture in Ps. 69:21 would be fulfilled.  Christ, as He was hanging on the cross, was doing more than physically suffering for my sins.  He was spiritually suffering as well.  In His mind, (which was perfectly clear in spite of all His sufferings and the commotion going on around Him) He was going through the scriptures one by one, making sure all the prophecies concerning his life and death were fulfilled.  When He came to this verse, knowing that all things were now accomplished, said "I thirst," that the scripture might be fulfilled.


The use of the word "after" clearly indicates that Simon carried the cross by following Christ, not by carrying the cross after Christ dropped it.