‘Going the extra mile’ is an expression we have all heard. It’s an experience we’ve all had. It’s the time you went beyond your physical, mental, and emotional limits (comfort zones). It’s the extra effort you put into accomplishing a task.
It’s when you dug deeper, started earlier, stayed longer, worked harder, gave more.
‘Going the extra mile’ is actually a Biblical expression. It’s part of a collection of sayings and teachings of Jesus known as The Sermon On The Mount, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles (Matthew 5:41).”
During the time of Christ, the Roman Empire was in control. Any Jew could be forced to serve a Roman soldier or official by carrying a burden or load mainly armoury, for one Roman mile. A Roman mile is roughly 1.45 kilometres. This was a painful task, carrying up to 40-50 kilograms of weight. After they had completed the task they could go about their own business. Jesus taught that although they had a right to stop at one mile, they could choose to go on farther and do more than what was required of them. Jesus introduces a new norm.
His followers would be known as '2nd Milers' or ‘Extra Milers’!
The ‘extra mile’ moments in life are typically outside of our comfort zone, they are beyond our personal limitations and natural ability. They venture beyond expectations, demands and requirements, into service which is above and beyond either call or duty.
Simon of Cyrene was the man pulled from the crowd and forced to carry the cross of Jesus (Matthew 27.32). Simon must have been horrified. He was forced into service. Forced to go a dreadful mile to the place they called ‘Skull Hill.’ Simon must have known that carrying that cross and contact with Jesus blood would render him unclean, and thus unfit to eat the Passover meal. All those miles he had traveled for the Passover would have been in vain. Surely anger and fear stirred within him. Anger over a Roman's authority to ask him to do such a thing, and fear of what would be done to him if he refused to obey. And then he saw Him. Or what was left of Him.
The body of Jesus was mutilated beyond recognition.
He was barely able to stand, let alone able to bear the weight of His own cross.
It didn't make sense. If this was the Messiah, it was not supposed to end this way.
Having no choice in the matter Simon took up the cross, and followed Jesus.
Likely it was fear that initially moved him to obey.
But as Simon carried the cross through the narrow streets, he must have marvelled at the determination of the condemned man.
The hatred and sorrow that came from the crowd was intense, but Jesus focused on the road ahead of Him as He took one agonising step after another.
Not once did Jesus speak a word of protest.
Unlike Simon you are not forced to carry a cross. But just like Simon you have been chosen, pulled out of the crowd.
Your plans have been divinely disrupted, your dreams placed on sacred hold.
That prearranged mission trip has been upgraded to a life on mission.
You do get a cross, it isn’t forced on you, but unless you pick it up you can’t follow where Jesus intends to lead you.
Without the cross you will lose your life!
Without the cross life will leak out of you and you will be forced to seek cheap substitutes, artificial stimulants and superficial relationship.
Simon may not have fully understood who Jesus was, but surely he recognized that Jesus was no ordinary man.
He may not have been able to participate in the Passover feast as planned, but that year Simon of Cyrene had an encounter with the Passover Lamb that surely changed his life forever.
You have been pulled out from the crowd and a similar encounter awaits.
Grace and Peace,