Christ and Simon of Cyrene
Sebastiano del Piombo
Lectio Luke 14: 25-33 25“Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26 ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish’. 31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions’”. Meditatio
Jesus spoke these words to the crowds when He was on his way to Jerusalem. He knew that He was on his way to his Passion and Death on a Cross. The crowds who were with him thought that He was on his way to a kingdom on earth and wished to be part of it.
The Message of Jesus and the Use of Language of Luke
The first striking point is Jesus proclaiming that “If any man comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life too, he cannot be my disciple.”
This is concerning: Does Jesus really call us to hate our natural families and our very own lives too?
There are some helpful points to consider here:
Firstly, Jesus often used hyperbole as an effective teaching method to emphasize a point, for example in Matthew.
Secondly, when we compare the words of Luke with those of Matthew in his parallel account, Matthew, we see that Matthew has interpreted Luke’s more stark word “hate”, to refer to primary allegiance. Matthew considers that Jesus was demanding that our primary allegiance must be to him, rather than to family, such a very tight knit unit of those times. Luke’s use of “hate” might be considered as a figurative, non-literal use of the word that comes from Hebrew. Research has shown that Biblical Hebrew lacks the language of comparison such as “more than” or “less than”, rendering the message so blunt as to be capable of misleading. A similar use of the Hebrew word for “hate” occurs in the Book of Deuteronomy where it is clear that the issue is one of “preference” or “allegiance.” This accords with what we have read in Luke and Matthew.
Jesus is not calling his followers to hate their families emotionally. Instead, He is calling for undivided loyalty to himself above family loyalties. He means that no love in life can compare with the love we must bear to him, if we are to be his disciples.
In this most vivid Gospel passage, the message of Jesus to those who would follow him was that no earthly glory was to be their reward, rather that they should be prepared to commit to him with the utmost loyalty, one which would call for the sacrifice of the dearest things in life and a suffering which would be like the agony of a man on a cross.
Counting the Cost of Discipleship
William Barclay suggests two truths from this passage of Luke’s:
Firstly, it is possible to be a follower of Jesus without being a disciple; to be a camp follower without being a soldier; to hear the words of a great teacher, without being his student. It is an egregious concern that the Church has many followers of Jesus but not so many real disciples.
Secondly, it is a Christian’s duty to count and fully acknowledge the cost of following Jesus. Jesus gives as an example the man who fully reckons the cost of building a tower, to ensure that he is able to complete the job and not risk failure. He gives the other example of the king considering engaging in battle, who has to fully assess whether he is able achieve his goal of defeating his enemy with only one half of the enemy’s fighting resource.
As in entering marriage, which a man and woman must do thoughtfully and reverently, so it is with becoming a disciple of Jesus. It must not be entered into without deep consideration of the costs and consequences. In his Parables about the man building the tower and the king considering battle, Jesus extols making the commitment to be able to finish the journey of discipleship.
In Verse 27 of the Gospel passage Jesus says “Whoever does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple”. In the last Verse of the Gospel passage, He makes it clear that “None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all of your possessions”.
The message of Jesus is clear: To be his true disciple, we must consider the cost and put him above everything else.
Conclusion and Reflection
This passage from Luke contains some very difficult teachings from Jesus. We might always prefer to hear teaching about God’s grace, God’s own covenant to redeem and save. But it is a relationship where obligations of loyalty and conduct are expected of us in return. Our Redeemer calls us into a costly discipleship; “Follow me” is a gift, but it needs an investment from us.
But if we are daunted by the demands of discipleship, remember that we are not left alone to fulfil them. He who called us to follow him on this steep road will walk with us every step of the way and he will be there at the end to meet us.
Hebrews 12:2 “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”.
Heavenly Father, whose most dear Son, as He walked the Way of the Cross, accepted the service of Simon of Cyrene to carry his physical burden for him: mercifully grant unto each of us the grace that we may gladly bear one another’s burdens, for the love of him who said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” ever the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who now lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Jesus must have felt gratitude to Simon for providing some relief during the Passion, but also for helping him to achieve the redemption of humanity by his suffering and death. But how did Simon feel - surprised, annoyed, reluctant, embarrassed?
o Do we feel some of what Simon might have felt, when we hear the call of Christ
or when an unexpected cross comes to us?
o Like Simon who was compelled to carry Christ’s cross, would we too rather not
carry our crosses?
o Are we able to see through the demands of our crosses, knowing that if there is
no cross there is no resurrection?
o Are we able to be an example of acceptance and perseverance as we try to cope
with difficult times?
o Do we invoke the help of the Holy Spirit in our trials and then allow him to work
in us to perfect us?
o Do we eagerly tell of the blessings we received for enduring a trial, or do we
want to quickly put the experience behind us?
o Do we allow the experience to change us and allow us to grow closer to Christ?
o Are we ready and willing to embrace suffering and be open to God’s grace to
o Are we willing to do as Simon did and help carry the crosses of others?
May everyone I meet this day see you, Lord, feel your presence and experience your love. May I serve you by serving others in your name, making all that I do a gift of Love.
 Matthew 18:8-9: “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire”  Matthew 10: 37: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”. Deuteronomy 21: 15-17: “If a man has two wives, one of them loved and the other disliked, and if both the loved and the disliked have borne him sons, the firstborn being the son of the one who is disliked, then on the day when he wills his possessions to his sons, he is not permitted to treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the disliked, who is the firstborn. He must acknowledge as firstborn the son of the one who is disliked, giving him a double portion of all that he has; since he is the first issue of his virility, the right of the firstborn is his”.  BARCLAY, William: “The Daily Study Bible, the Gospel of Luke”, p.196