Sitting in the prayer room the other day, I felt the Holy Spirit bring some things to mind. One thing I saw was the image of Jesus’ crown of thorns, and the impression of its significance. Throughout the rest of that week, I was doubly aware of the suffering that occurs in our world – plane crashes, war, people dying, people grieving, and the everyday challenges people face in their lives. I’ve often imagined the glory of Jesus when He returns –
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon and the stars: and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” – [Luke 21:27-28]
There is so much instruction given about preparing for the day of the Lord, the day of Jesus’ return. Luke 21 goes on to explain the importance of watching –
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” – [Luke 21:34-36]
The earth is already groaning for the return of the Lord. Suffering is amass, and yet, as we draw closer to the day of the Lord, all these things will intensify, hearts will lose hope and the earth will be shaken. Now is the time to prepare, to be strengthened in our inner being through faith in Christ Jesus as we look forward to His return, and to keep watch so we will know the time and lift up our heads when we see Him coming.
In order to fully understand our Lord, crowned with glory, we also need to understand His crown of thorns. Mark 15:16-20 gives account of how Jesus was mocked before His crucifixion.
“Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called the Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and began to salute Him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshipped Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.”
Another account is given in Matthew 27:27-31.
“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ Then they spat on Him and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.”
I admit, I have often skimmed past these passages – the physical suffering of Christ is so bluntly and clearly described here, and it pierces to the heart. The King of glory, the King over all Kings, taken into the Praetorium, the general’s tent, and His kingship mocked. How many times do we also mock the kingship of Jesus in our lives when we spurn His instruction? Yet, how vast, and how great is the grace and the love of God that He would endure humanity’s failings, and more than this, choose also to die for our sins and bring us into the intimacy and fullness of all that He is! Isaiah 53 is a passage I have read many many times, but meditating on Jesus’ physical suffering caused me to read it again with new eyes.
“Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” – [Isaiah 53:4-6]
Jesus’ suffering is converted to glory, and His crown of thorns becomes a crown of glory. The One who was mocked and crucified, raised to eternal life. The robe they took away, replaced with a cloak of immeasurable grace, a robe of justice and power. The crown of thorns, giving way to many glorious crowns. The reed, bruised but not broken, replaced by an iron scepter to rule nations. The mocked title eclipsed by the truth of His Name. The One who was led to suffering, now leading His people to victory.
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God, and the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING of KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” – [Revelation 19:11-16]
The passage above is another favourite one of mine because it so clearly describes the authority and glory of my Lord Jesus. I see my God in victory, having overcome all things, and in this way, also paving the way for us to overcome all things, even death.
The crown of thorns is glorious in many ways:
1. It symbolises how Christ has overcome the curse of sin. In Genesis 3, the consequence for Adam’s sin is given –
“…Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” – [Genesis 3:17-19]
Compare this to the blessing of salvation, given through Christ’s victory over the grave in Revelation –
“And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be His God and he shall be My son.” – [Revelation 21:6-7]
2. It is a reminder that we have a sympathetic High Priest.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – [Hebrews 4:14-16]
3. It is a reminder that Christ wants us to be with Him in glory. Jesus promises a crown to those who overcome, that we can rule with Him and be with Him in glory forever. Romans 814-17 affirms out sonship in Christ –
“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
Moreover, as we share in the suffering of Christ, we can remember that as Christ prevailed, we also will prevail through Him.
“Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will also deny us. If we are faithless He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” – [2 Timothy 2:10-13]
A crown of thorns, and a crown of glory – Jesus has borne the suffering of the whole world, and was raised to glory, making intercession of all.
“Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.” – [Isaiah 53:12]