Did Jesus or Simon of Cyrene carry the cross?

Matthew 27:31-32; Mark 15:20-21; Luke 23:26 and John 19:17

  1. Simon of Cyrene
    1. (Matthew 27:31-32) - "And after they had mocked Him, they took His robe off and put His garments on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. 32And as they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross."
    2. (Mark 15:20-21) - "And after they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, and put His garments on Him. And they *led Him out to crucify Him. 21And they pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross."
    3. (Luke 23:26) - "And when they led Him away, they laid hold of one Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus."
  2. Jesus
    1. (John 19:17) - "They took Jesus therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha."

Both carried the cross.  John 19:17 does not say that Jesus carried the cross alone.  It says he bore his own cross. He carried the cross until he couldn't carry any more than Simon assisted.  A contradiction occurs when one statement makes another statement impossible but both are supposed to be true.  There is no contradiction.

Jesus had undergone a very physically traumatic few hours. Please consider the following verses placed in order of His ordeal and pay attention to the physical trauma he received before He ever arrived at the cross.

  • Sweat like blood "And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground," (Luke 22:44).
  • He was struck "And when He had said this, one of the officers standing by gave Jesus a blow, saying, "Is that the way You answer the high priest?" 23Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?" (John 18:22-23).
  • He was beaten with fists "And some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, "Prophesy!" And the officers received Him with slaps in the face," (Mark 14:65). 
  • He was scourged "Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he delivered Him to be crucified," (Matt. 27:26).
  • Crown of thorns on head and beaten "And after weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews! 30"And they spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. 31And after they had mocked Him, they took His robe off and put His garments on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him," (Matt. 27:29-31).

The accused would carry the cross beam to the place of crucifixion. Jesus started to carry it, but simply couldn't bear it very far after all the physical trauma He had just gone through. He collapsed. That is when the Romans drafted Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross the rest of the way.


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About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.