Simon of Cyrene was the man compelled by the Roman soldiers to carry the cross of Jesus as Jesus was taken to his crucifixion, according to all 3 Synoptic Gospels.
His home town, Cyrene, Libya, was located in northern Africa. Cyrene, a Greek colony, also had a Jewish community where 100,000 Judean Jews had been forced to settle during the reign of Ptolemy Soter (323–285 BC), and was an early center of Christianity.
The Cyrenian Jews had a synagogue in Jerusalem, where many went for annual feasts.
Tradition holds his sons, Rufus and Alexander, became missionaries; the inclusion of their names in Mark 15:21 may suggest they were of some standing in the Early Christian community at Rome. It has also been suggested that the Rufus mentioned by Paul in Romans 16:13 is the son of Simon of Cyrene. Some also link Simon himself with the “men of Cyrene” who preached the Gospel to the Greeks in Acts 11:20. On the other hand, Simon’s name does not prove he was Jewish, and Alexander and Rufus were both common names and may have referred to others.
Simon’s act of carrying the cross for Jesus is the 5th or 7th of the Stations of the Cross. Some interpret the passage as indicating that Simon was chosen because he may have shown sympathy with Jesus. Others point out that the text itself says nothing, that he had no choice, and there is no basis to consider the carrying of the cross an act of sympathetic generosity.
There are at least 4 things the cross did for Simon:
1) It brought him into the presence of Jesus. He was so close, he could hear the voice of Jesus.
2) It made him follow in the steps of Jesus.
3) It made him part of the greatest work in history.
4) It changed his family.
Simon was changed forever by one simple act. What has the cross done for you?
You can read the story of Simon the Cyrenian in Matthew 27:32,33; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26.