Jesus’ Shoulders Weren’t Strong Enough

[Listen to the sound file while you read — two inches to the right of this line on this page, marked “Aubre’s Gift”]

A Devotion for Lent
Preparing our hearts for Good Friday and Easter  

The Savior Begins to Carry His Cross.

Adapted from the account of
Mt 27:32; Mk 15:21; Lk 23:26; Jn 19:17-18

Jesus carrying crossbeam 1

Jesus shoulders the burden of the cross.

… and He went out, …

            … bearing His own cross, …

… to the place called ‘the place of the skull,’ which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with Him, one on either side, and Jesus between them.

As they went out, they found a man, a passerby coming in from the country, Simon of Cyrene by name, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

They seized Him and laid on Him the cross to carry it behind Jesus.


Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ is a visually and emotionally assaulting film. It throws reality at us in a sensory barrage of images that lingers in the soul long after the movie ends. It is powerful. It is filled with devotion and it made box office history.

But it is not completely accurate or true to the biblical and historical record at all points. Jesus did not carry His cross.

He started to carry the cross but was too weak from the beatings He had received. His human shoulders weren’t strong enough. So the cross beam upon which His sinless hands were nailed was laid upon the shoulders of Simon of Cyrene who walked behind Jesus.

Some might use this minor historical inaccuracy in the film to downplay the agony of Christ. “See,” they might say, “It wasn’t as bad as Mel Gibson made it look.”

They would be wrong.

It was worse—far worse.

The torture of the cross He bore was not merely physical but spiritual and emotional. He was bearing the weight of the sins of all those who would believe in Him. No human being could help the Savior with that weight, but every human being who ever lived is in debt to the weight He bore that day.

“Wonderful Savior, glorious Lord, Immanuel, God-with-us, thank You for bearing the burden of my sin. It was my sin that made Your burden so great. Help me to know how much I have been forgiven so that I will love much (Luke 7:47) because ‘Love so amazing so divine demands my soul, my life, my all!’ Help me to give my all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

An excerpt from Experience the Passion of Christ by Marty Schoenleber, Jr.

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