Pilate, forewarned by his wife not to "have anything to do with that innocent man..." (Matthew 27:19b), and learning that Jesus was a Galilean, sent Him to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at the time.  In front of Herod, Jesus was tested, accused, ridiculed, and mocked. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. ~~Matthew 23:11b

 

Once again in front of Pilate, the Governor attempted to "get out of the situation" by reminding the crowd that during the Feast of the Passover, it was his custom to release a prisoner chosen by them.  He gave them a choice, the notorious Barabbas, or Jesus, the man they had shouted Hosanna to just a few short days before.

 

The crowd chose Barabbas.

 

"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!"...Then he released Barabbas to them.  But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. ~~Excerpts from Matthew 27:22-26.

     

Flogging is a process by which the Roman soldiers would strip the accused, stretch and beat him with thongs of leather, on which pieces of metal were fastened. At times the beating was so vicious, the condemned man would die even before being led to his crucifixion.

 

Jesus was taken to the Praetorium, stripped, dressed in a scarlet robe, crowned with a crown of thorns, spit upon, mocked, struck on the head repeatedly, and led to Golgotha ("The Place of the Skull"), also called Calvary.

 

According to the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), along the road leading to Golgotha, the crossbeam a battered and bloodied Jesus was required to heave up to the mountain where He would be crucified was forced upon a man named Simon of Cyrene. 

 

Cyrene (modern-day Tripoli) was an important city in upper Libya, North Africa.  Founded in 630 BC, Ptolemy (son of Lagus) later brought in one hundred thousand Jews to live there. By the time of Jesus, that number would have greatly increased.

 

No one knows for sure why Simon (which means "that hears and obeys") was in Jerusalem at the time, but the possibility of being there to celebrate the Passover is fairly probable. We don't know the attitude of Simon toward Jesus at the time, but we have some other insights to this man who was so honored to have done what he did.

 

According to Mark, Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15:23).  Theologians believe this Rufus may have been the same one mentioned in Romans 16:13, which reads:  Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord. We know, also, that after the resurrection of Jesus and the infilling of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost, "men from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. (Acts 11:20)