Does the name Rufus mean anything to you? If you are familiar with Romans 16:13, you know that Paul praises a Rufus as “a choice man in the Lord.” Where does this Rufus come from and how did he come to be “in the Lord?”
In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we learn that a man named Simon was pressed into service to carry the cross for Jesus (MT 27:32; MK 15:21; LK 23:26). This was required, no doubt, because Jesus had been lashed and beaten severely by the Romans. Simon, who carried the patibulum (cross-beam) for Jesus, is basically unknown in scripture. The bible says very little about him, but that he was coming in from the country – basically a passer-by! The bible does record one interesting fact though. In Mark 15:21, we are told that Simon was the father of “Alexander and Rufus.”
Many scholars agree that this Rufus is the same one that Paul refers to in Romans 16:13 as “a choice man in the Lord.” If this is the same Rufus, can you imagine what an impression it must have made on him to know of (or possibly to have seen) his father carrying the cross for Jesus? And did Rufus become famous among Christians because of what his dad did? Is that what led Paul to recognize him as “a choice man” in the Lord? Was Rufus introduced to people as the man whose father carried the cross for Christ?
Of course, we will never know the answer to those questions. But what we do know is that there was a man who may have been the same Rufus, and he was a Christian. He and his family were very helpful to Paul – so much so, that Paul even considered Rufus’ mother to be his own.
Simon taught his children, in a very literal sense, to do what Jesus told us all to do: deny yourself and take up your cross daily (Luke 9:23). Simon carried a literal cross once, but if we would be Jesus’ disciples, we must carry our spiritual crosses “daily.” What are we teaching our children? Will they see us carrying our cross daily? What kind of an impact will that have in their lives? Perhaps our efforts today will help send them on a path to being recorded in the book of life in the same way that Rufus is remembered forever – as those who are choice in the Lord.