Crown of Thorns
Imagine the scene - a man, beaten and blood, a crowd pressing in for more. People hungry for revenge and soldiers with nothing better to do than to mock and humiliate a prisoner. The soldiers decide they want to pay mock homage to this King of the Jews, so they send one of them out to make a crown out of a common thorn bush. These are long, nasty thorns on branches that smart when you even get too close. This soldier, success on his errand, now fashions a crown from these twigs. He might himself have gotten entangled, but that does not matter, he's got a job to do and he likes nothing more than humiliating someone who thinks he's better than others. "A king? Ha! I'll let Him be King. He can pretend all He wants, but He is not King over me!" I can imagine this soldier saying something like this to himself and anyone who happens to be listening. He then takes this newly-made crown of thorns over to the crowd of comrades and with much pomp and ceremony he shoves it down upon the very battered head of the prisoner. Grotesque laughter permeates the room. It ripples through the crowd. The soldiers begin to pay their mock homage and respect to this 'King of the Jews.' What does it really matter to them? They, themselves are not Jews. Oh, but nothing is better than revenge. And this one is sweet. He has been a thorn in their side for some time now, causing trouble, crowds and confusion. There has been talk of a murder plot among the Pharisees for this one. These soldiers want in on the action. Plus, it's the Holy Week of the Jews and Jerusalem is crowded. Why not add to the chaos? Besides, it will teach them a lesson. They want a King - let's give them one. And then they spit on Him and jeer at Him. They insult, mock and poke fun at Him. And this prisoner just stands there. He takes it all. No lashing back, no cursing back, no fight. Only love. Imagine that picture - the prisoner looking out through that crown of thorns with love in His eyes. A deep rooted love that pierces through the darkness as it pierces through the blood, thorns and chaos in this scene. A love that is so amazing. To men who are so desperate for it. The soldiers were looking for a fight, but in return, they got what they needed more than anything - forgiveness. This prisoner, Jesus, did forgive them. He said so a little while later as He hung on the cross, the very cross that these same soldiers were making for Him. The same cross that He had to carry. The same cross that carried the blood of the King of the Jews, the Saviour of all mankind. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. John 3:16a
This is to me, the scene where the word 'gave' is at its zenith. Not only did Jesus have to leave heaven, which He did willingly, He also lived in human form, on this earth and around sinful man. We are sinners. Make no mistake about it. I did not have teach any one of my children to be naughty. In fact, I tried to limit their exposure to naughtiness as much as possible. But guess what? They knew how to be naughty all on their own. It was pretty amazing to watch. I was erroneously taught in college that man is basically good, born good and not sinful. I'm thinking that my professor was an unmarried, no children guy. Because he was wrong, wrong, wrong. We are sinful at birth. We come out being selfish and we just keep going. I am constantly battling against my spirit and my flesh. I want what I want. In fact, I want it now! But Jesus came to us. It was all part of God's plan before even time began. Before time was set into motion when God said, "Let there be light." And what's even more amazing than that is the fact that this scene with the crown of thorns was very much in His mind's eye when heaven earth were created. It is because of His love for man that He gave His Son, a gift, one that fits all and is meant for all.
And this gift would come here on earth, live among us for some thirty years, train and live life with a rag tag group of guys and some women. This gift would teach and talk about God's love. He talked about having a relationship with God and Himself that was so different that they had ever known. All they knew was rules and regulations. Do this, do that. He turned that theory upside down. And it got some people very mad. They were the chief priests and elders of Jerusalem, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. They were hopping mad. Who was this man that could come in and teach something different than their ancient texts? Generations had been following these laws handed down by Moses. A good Jew followed the Law of Moses, not this whippersnapper. So this crown of thorns on His head was put there because they were trying to play dress-up. But the joke really was on them. Jesus really was and is the King of the Jews. In fact, He's more than that. He's the King of kings. In His pain and suffering He brought so many honors to God because He was doing exactly what God had sent Him to do. That whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16b Jesus came to bring us life. Through His suffering, we have life. Through the insults, mockery, and pain, we have life. Abundant life! Jesus talked about this life in John 10:10- "I have come that you may have life, life to the full."
While He had hardships, beatings and even a sinner's death, we can have an abundant life. That crown that was put on His head was meant to bruise and crush. But it didn't. That crown brought glory to the Father, because, by His stripes we are healed. We have eternal life because of the death and resurrection of our Saviour. We have God's gift of love through the thorns.
I always want to shy away from thorns. I don't like them. They hurt. Cause grief and pain. But Jesus was silent when the thorns were shoved onto His head, His beloved head. He is the lifter of my head and on His head we, as humanity, put on thorns. I have always thought thorns were nasty. But, in fully thinking about them, I have come to realize they are a gift to bring God glory. What the world sees as destruction, God sees as glory for Himself. And Jesus did it right, so right. He was silent with the thorns. He was obedient unto death on the cross. He gave all the glory to God. He submitted to God's will and purpose and that purpose included thorns. The nastiest thorns earth has ever seen. So what is my take away? Life is about thorns, because they are in our lives to bring glory to God. Whether they are long, short, stuck or easily pulled out. Thorns matter. I can rebel and kick and scream all I want, but if I am stuck with a thorn, no amount of screaming will take away a God-given thorn. I can have the thorn and be miserable or I can be silent and give glory to God and let Him have His way with me, like Jesus did. I am to imitate Him. I am to follow the way of the cross. I am to pick up my cross and follow Him. No turning back, even if it means a crown of thorns. And I don't deserve that. My Saviour was called for that and He is so much more. He is my beloved Jesus and I can humbly bow before Him and submit. I too can say, as Jesus said on the cross, "Not my will, but Thine, Lord." And I do.