A Little of Both but All of Neither

“I am so confused. In your sermon this morning your text said they compelled a man by the name of Simon to carry the cross for Christ, but this afternoon I read in my Bible where Christ went out ‘bearing his own cross.’ Which is right?” This question came from a brother who was a steadfast student of God’s Word. The Sunday morning text had been Matthew 27:32, “and as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; him they compelled to bear his cross.” The lesson had been on the need for gracious, happy volunteer service to Christ – not the kind that springs from a reluctant feeling of being forced. This brother had wanted to reread the passage but had forgotten from which book it came so he read John’s account which read, “And he bearing his cross went forth unto a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha…” John 19:17.

Which is right? My answer to him was both! His response was, “How can both be right?” The answer is easy if you visualize the scene: Christ bore his own cross as he went out of the courtyard, but, having undergone a night of torture, was unable to continue under the heavy load. Simon of Cyrene was forced by the soldiers to carry the cross the rest of the way. The truth is that it was a little of both but all of neither. This highlights a fatal flaw that exists in much of our Bible interpretation, because we forget something that should be obvious, every scripture is modified by every other scripture.” You don’t have all the truth until you put them all together.

A simple example would be that we are justified by faith, Romans 5:1. But, “…faith without works is dead,” James 2:26. Both scriptures are true, but neither is true apart from the other. Most so called discrepancies in the scripture trace their origin to a disregard for this principle.

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