One of a series of wall paintings in fresco at Stavronikita Monastery on Mount Athos painted by the master iconographer Theophanes the Cretan in the mid 16th century, this icon shows two scenes from Christ’s Passion. In the first scene Christ is being scourged while His hands and feet are tied to a pillar as two men mercilessly torture Him with demonic fury, driven by the envy of demons of God’s Love for mankind. Not content with their own degradation, they wish for all sentient beings to follow them in their destruction and insane spiritual state. The very qualities of Godly Love?meekness and humility?infuriate demons the most.
In the second scene we see Christ being led by soldiers to the place of His death. His hands are tied and the rope is held by one of the soldiers leading Him. Before this sorrowful procession is Simon of Cyrene carrying Christ’s Cross. Simon was pressed into service when the Lord was too weak in His humanity to bear His Cross alone. We too must participate in carrying a Cross if we wish to be Christians, and must learn to do this with willingness and thankfulness if we truly wish to follow Christ.