And when they had [finished] making sport of Him, they took the purple [robe] off Him and put His own clothes on Him. And they led Him out [of the city] to crucify Him.
In verse 21, Mark tells us that Simon of Cyrene, was coming into the city from the countryside into the city of Jerusalem, but the Lord was traveling out of the city. These two men were traveling in opposite directions. Simon was coming in and the Lord was going out being led by the Roman Soldiers and a large crowd of haters. Simon suddenly found himself turned around at the instructions of the Centurion and finds his life walking in exactly the opposite direction from where he was first headed. Meeting Christ at this point and being forced to place his hands on the cross and carry it would be a life changing experience for him.
Now some of you might ask, “why would he ever mention Simon of Cyrene as the Black Hands on the cross, and how would he even know that Simon of Cyrene was a Black Man? For those of you who are truth seekers, these would be legitimate questions to ask. For me as a Minister of the Gospel, called and ordained to come boldly before the throne of grace, and speak truth to power, convince, rebuke, exhort and teach, it is my job to empower you with knowledge in order that you may know the truth and the truth will truly set you free. (John 8:32)
For me to state here with absolute certain that Simon of Cyrene was a Black Man is impossible. This is a question that has been debated by Scholars worldwide for hundreds of years. However, I should start by pointing out it is difficult to determine with accuracy black men and women in the Bible because the Bible is color-neutral. There is never any reference to race or racial features. The main distinction throughout the Bible is between those that serve God and those that do not, whether as individuals or as nations. It is not definite that everyone from Ethiopia or Cyrene was black, but certainly you could reasonably assume that it was a good possibility. So this study will have to be considered reasonable speculation.
We know very little about Simon. We see from this Mark’s writing that he had come from the country to Jerusalem on this occasion, perhaps on business. He must have been a strong man. I don’t think the soldiers would have picked a weakling. God had appointed him to be there, not to help Jesus with the cross, but to encounter the one who was to be crucified for his sins. Except for Mark’s obscure reference to Rufus and Alexander we would have no more information about Simon.
What we do know about Simon called Niger is his name. Simon is a Jewish name and Niger comes from the Latin word for “black”. It’s safe to say he was Jewish and may have been called “Black” simply because of his looks.
Research shows that Simon of Cyrene was from a country in ancient northern Africa (bordering Egypt) called Libya. According to Spirit of English Magazine Vol. 10, pg. 286; in ancient times Libya contained two countries Cyrenaica and Marmarica. Wikipedia [the on line encyclopedia], shares that Libya was until recent times, the home of one the oldest Jewish communities in the world, dating back to at least 300 BC. In the 1st century, the Jewish historian for the Roman Empire, Josephus Flavius, noted 500,000 Jews lived in Libya. By today’s standards, people from North Africa may or may not be classified as Black. The New Testament, let’s us in on the fact that Joseph, Mary and Jesus spent time in Egypt, This raises an equally intriguing question as to whether or not Simon’s friend, Joseph of Marmarica (a.k.a. Joseph of Marmore, Joseph of Arimathea, brother of Jesus’ grandmother) from the neighboring district of Marmonica/Marmarica, should also be classified as African or Black. –Satchell Intell.
We find here in (Matthew 27:32 NKJV). Simon of Cyrene was from Ethiopia, and this text and the identity of this man clearly reminds us all of us today that all cultures were represented at Calvary and in the church. This further reminds us that wise men of all ages would be honored to be allowed to perform the task that was conferred upon Simon of Cyrene, the Ethiopia from northwestern Africa. Whether it was voluntary or by force, in any case, black hands were extended to help the Savior bear His cross. The Ethiopian eunuch from Africa (Acts 8:26) was the first Gentile convert mentioned by name in the Book of Acts. History reports that he returned to Ethiopia to found the Abyssinian Christian Church, which exists until this day.
May God’s saving grace, be with each one of you whose hands, regardless of their color, feel obligated to pick-up your cross and carry it this day be blessed with love, peace and power. Only because Jesus loved all of us and died for our sins so we may have the opportunity to celebrate his life, death and resurrection on this EASTER.
Thank you for studying with us today and may you receive all that you desire from the Lord as you walk into your divine destiny…