Typically the “criminal” was made to carry the cross beam for the cross to the place of the execution. Jesus was too weak, so they got someone to carry it for Him. The fact that Simon and his sons are named may be because they were known Christians in the early church (Romans 16:13 mentions a Rufus).
The reference to the soldiers casting lots for His clothing is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18. The first line of that Psalm is quoted by Jesus when He cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The initial part of the cry, “My God,” is “Eli” in the Greek, which explains why some from the crowd misheard Him. Why would Jesus cry out like that? The physical and emotional pain Jesus was experiencing was incredible, but I believe that that there was spiritual suffering as well. After all, He “bore our sins our sins in His body” (1 Peter 2:24) and was made “to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21), which is astonishing because we are told that our sins cause God to hide His face from us (Isaiah 59:2). If something along those lines is true, then we should have a greater understanding of the incredible nature of the incarnation and crucifixion. Jesus came to this earth knowing what it was going to entail, and He did it anyway!
Philippians 2:6-8 “who, though he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross!”
Finally, how about the unintentional irony of the religious leaders? “He saved others, but He cannot save Himself.” He could have saved Himself, but He didn’t, precisely because He was going to save us! And even with His initial cry of anguish, the loud shout was probably “It is finished,” which could also be a reference to the final few words of Psalm 22:31. Truly love so amazing!
For worship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmY3jSugNBU
(For a discussion of the temple curtain being torn in two, go back to February 14!)