Daily Devotion for Saturday 20th April 2024

Saturday 20th April

 

Reading Luke 23:23-26

But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.  As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.

Reflection

The Bible offers many examples of unexpected encounters, with the people of God in the Old Testament, with Jesus, and with the early Christians. Maybe today in a quiet moment you could recall some of these. I have always been intrigued by the place of Simon from Cyrene in the Easter Narrative grabbed from the crowd to help carry Jesus’ cross. Probably a black North African Jew from what we now know as Libya, Simon was 900 miles from home (a month long journey). There were thousands of other pilgrims in Jerusalem for the Passover, but it is Simon who is forced to help a bleeding and stumbling, innocent but condemned man.

Little is known about the rest of Simon’s life, Mark’s Gospel records that he had two sons Alexander and Rufus and many would surmise that the use of names imply that they became part of the early Church. Some have even connected the family to the Rufus mentioned in Romans 16:13 as being ‘chosen in the Lord’ but that can only be speculation.

Maybe this week you are already aware of some of the unexpected encounters you have had with people you don’t know as you go about your daily business. A significant part of evangelism is to believe that people are not only encountering us they can also encounter Jesus; likewise we can encounter him through them. God can be appreciated as being present and at work without negating our own decisions and agency. In Christian theology through the centuries this has been described as ‘prevenient’ grace where God precedes and prepares a person for faith in Christ.

As a person who really has to step out of my comfort zone for intentional evangelistic activity, I am thankful for God’s grace in seemingly random situations. I have had many of them over the years as I expect you have. I have written about one of them in a blog at https://discipleseveryday.com/well-played-sam/

Prayer

God of surprises, 
I thank you that the task of evangelism is not a burden upon me alone. 
I know that you are more interested in my availability than my ability. 
Open the eyes of my heart that I can see people and situations 
as you see them and to play my part 
in helping others to encounter Jesus. 
Help me to be willing to be surprised 
and even to surprise myself in following you. 
Amen
 

Today’s writer

The Revd Eddie Boon is the Thames North Synod Discipleship Enabler

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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