"Mary was the first to commemorate the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, and Simon the first to carry the cross to walk with Him. He himself would not have thought that from then on all those who followed Jesus would carry the cross like him, walking with the Lord."
On the afternoon of April 2, Good Friday, Elder Ou Enlin of Shanghai Grace Church gave a sermon titled "Perfume and Cross", citing Mark 14:3-9 and Matthew 27:32-33. He shared the relationship between Mary's anointing with the crucifixion of Jesus and the revelation of Simon's bearing of the cross.
"Mary in Bethany always listened carefully to Jesus, thinking over and over again, and Jesus must also teach God's will for Him (Jesus), including His death for everyone, so Mary was moved to seize the moment to pour expensive perfume worth a year’s wages on His feet. Why did Mary do it so solemnly? Because she realized that the death of Lord Jesus who rules all things in the world was the most precious, she seized the opportunity in advance to commemorate the Lord.” Therefore, Elder Ou encouraged the believers to provide the best things, such as gifts and service for the Lord’s use.
"Judas said the money should be given to the poor, but he sold Jesus for the same 30 silver coins which impressed him. The Lord Jesus said she had done a beautiful thing to Him, and he was not without mercy for the poor, as he truly sympathized with the poor. When we dedicate the best things to commemorate His sacrifice in reverence, the Lord is pleased to accept." He added.
After the Lord Jesus was flogged and the physical suffering reached the highest point, the soldiers forced a man named Simon from Cyrene in the crowd to carry the cross of Jesus in order to alleviate His physical suffering. He was not willing to do this, but the soldiers chose him because the people from Cyrene located in North Africa were stronger than the soldiers and their skin was darker.
He claimed, "There must be something that God values in us, that we and others don’t know, but God knows, so God who prepares the salvation chooses us to serve Him. So our unworthiness does not prevent us from being saved by grace, as long as we follow the Lord to go forward."
The preacher continued, "Since He chooses us, He must know that we can accomplish His work. We all have the ability to do what God tells us to do, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit."
Ou shared that some people thought bearing the cross meant experiencing suffering to follow the Lord as if suffering was a cross, but this was nothing remarkable since many people could endure suffering.
"Others said that God’s will is our cross, as it is really not easy for us to do it and it is painful to follow His will. We should take up the whole cross, including the suffering and the following of God’s will, to walk on a beautiful journey with Him."
Finally, the elder said, "We must learn from Mary of Bethany to commemorate the Lord with our love and to serve Him with our gifts and best service. We should also carry our own cross to walk with the Lord like Simon, to bear God's deeds and will, and to participate in God's complete salvation plan."
- Translated by Abigail Wu