The Crown of Thorns!
George Everard, 1877
"When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying: Hail, King of the Jews!" Matthew 27:29
It was a new and strange device. The Roman soldiers took a thorny shrub, and weaved together a few slender branches in the shape of a garland, and place it on the head of Jesus. A little before this our Lord had been scourged — the stripes which our sins deserved had fallen upon Him. Very soon His hands and feet will be pierced with nails — and the head of Christ has now its wounds also. That head so often bowed with grief for another's woe — that head which received from Mary's loving hand the precious ointment — now has, from the rough, unfeeling hands of the soldiery, this strange coronation. The cruel thorns pierce His brow, and there flows afresh the blood which redeems a lost world from sin. We have it in our hymn:
O sacred head! once wounded,
With grief and shame bowed down;
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns — Your only crown!
O sacred head! what glory,
What bliss until now was Thine;
Yes, though despised and gory,
I joy to call You mine!
A Crown of Thorns! It took but a few moments to make — it was a token of contempt on the part of the soldiers. Yet would I prize it far more than any crown of human glory; for it tells me of Christ, and His grace and love: it opens out to me fresh views of His work; it brings me nearer to the Savior whom I love.
A Crown of Thorns! Let me be reminded of Paradise. When sin entered, the curse came; and, as a mark of it, the earth brought forth thorns and thistles. But Jesus had His crown of thorns, for He took upon Himself the curse. He was made a curse for our sake — that to us the blessing might come. His precious blood has washed the earth from its curse, so that to all who are in Him its fruits might come in blessing. Yes, by-and-by they shall have their part in the new Heaven and the new earth, where there is no more curse, but wherein dwells righteousness!
A Crown of Thorns! It well points out the path of Jesus as "the Man of Sorrows."
We have here and there a thorn that pierces the foot as we journey along our pilgrimage: we cannot escape it if we would.
There are briars besetting every path,
Which call for patient care:
There is a cross in every lot,
And an earnest need for prayer.
Paul had his thorn in the flesh — and each Christian, ever since Paul's day, has had his thorn too — perhaps many. But Christ alone had the crown of thorns; for He was the King of sufferers — the chief among all the children of sorrow and affliction. Ah, this shall be my refuge in days of trouble! Should my head be racked with pain — should it be fevered and restless through disease, or be wearied with anxiety and care — I will think of the thorn-crowned Savior! I will remember that in all my affliction, He was afflicted — and that He can sympathize for me in the least, or in the greatest sorrows.
I will remember, too, that the thorns He wore extracted the pain from mine. For to Him they came as part of the great atoning sacrifice for man's guilt — but to me pain and sorrow come as wholesome discipline, to heal the diseases of my soul. Thus the sight of Christ wearing His crown of thorns, shall confirm my faith in His sympathy, and shall enable me more patiently to bear my cross.
A Crown of Thorns! "He was despised and rejected by men." He enters into Jerusalem honored by the multitude who throng around Him. There is something like a day of triumph. The people greet Him as a King. They cut down branches and straw them in the way — they cast their garments beneath His feet. Young and old cry, "Hosanna!" and salute Him as David's royal Son.
But a few days have passed, and all is changed. The fickle crowd have joined His enemies, and the soldiers mock His kingly pretensions. Hence the crown of thorns; hence the purple robe — some cast-off rag of royalty; hence the reed put into His hand in place of a scepter. Yes, and they bow the knee in scorn, and cry, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
"You, Galilean — a King! You, doomed to die as a malefactor — a King! No palace, no throne, no army — yet a King!"
Thus they dishonor the Son of God. And He bore it all without a murmur or an angry word. Let Him but move the hand, but utter a word, but will it in His heart — and the whole host of them would have perished!
Strange and marvelous forbearance. Oh! that I could learn the lesson, and be more gentle, forgiving, and patient towards those who wrong or reproach me!
A Crown of Thorns! What was this but an acted prophecy of glory yet to come? The crown of thorns foreshadows the crown of glory — yes, the many crowns that Messiah shall wear!
"I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud sat one like the Son of Man, having a golden crown on His head." (Revelation 14:14.) "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!" Revelation 19:11-12
History tells of a Roman Consul who brought back from Macedonia four hundred golden crowns from the kingdoms and cities he had subdued. But more than these, shall be the crowns of our Emmanuel.
The Crown of creating power and wisdom,
the Crown of providence,
the Crown of earth and Heaven,
the Crown of universal dominion,
the Crown of a glorious redemption,
the Crown of victory over death, and Hell defeated
— all these shall grace the head of Him who shall be owned by all as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Nor these alone — for of the great multitude before the throne, all shall place on His head the crown of their salvation. It is His victory, and not theirs. "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us; but unto Your name give the praise, for Your glory and Your truth's sake!"
Meanwhile, until that day shall come, let us learn our duty and our privilege.
But there is a word for the Lord's own people. Christian, crown the Savior by your unlimited confidence. Trust Him always, and under all circumstances. Keep back nothing from Him, but leave everything in His hand. Let your fellow-Christians see that your faith in Him is a reality, and brings you support and comfort in the most adverse seasons. Make Him your Hiding-place in the day of trouble. Bring to Him day by day your wants and your worries, your cares and your fears — and leave them in His hand. Let every fresh temptation or trouble give you a fresh errand to His mercy-seat. Take the key of promise, and then, by the hand of faith, you can open wide the treasury of His boundless grace. Lean your weakness upon His strength, and in every conflict look to Him to put your adversary to flight.
Crown Him by joyful songs of praise and thanksgiving. Since He is never weary of blessing you — you should never tire of praising and magnifying His name. Give thanks always for all things in His name. Stir up your heart perpetually in this blessed exercise. Every note of praise, every breath of thanksgiving, every remembrance of His loving-kindness and mercy — brings honor to His name, and is pleasing and acceptable in His sight.
Crown Him by yielding yourself entirely and in everything, to His rule and direction. Submit to Jesus as King indeed. Open wide to Him, the gate of your heart, and let Him rule in every department of your life. Let His will be your law. Submit to His sway, and own Him Lord and Master.
Where you shall go,
what you shall do,
what vineyard-work you shall undertake,
what friendships you shall form,
what engagements you shall make and what decline,
what joys or sorrows may be your lot —
leave all to Him, and desire only to know and do and suffer all His holy will.
So shall He lead you in the paths of peace and holiness, and give you at length the crown of life, purchased for you by His bitter and painful Crown of Thorns!
O Lord Jesus, by all Your pain and suffering, by all the scorn You endured — I beg You to make me faithful in Your service. Teach me to prize You and Your crown of thorns more than all the world can offer me. Reveal Yourself to me in all Your majesty and grace, that I may ever bow before You with deepest reverence.
O lowly King of peace, hold out to mo the scepter of Your love, and let me draw near and touch it by faith. You were clothed with a purple robe, in shame and contempt. O clothe me with the garments of salvation, and adorn me with the beauty of Your holy character. O Lord, may I behold and see the glory of Your love. May I trust You without a doubt, and cast upon You every trial and trouble, knowing that You care for me! Prepare my heart to welcome You at Your return. May I behold You, with joy, wearing the golden crown; and at that day, may You accept me to reign with You forever. Blessed Jesus, hear my prayer, for Your name's sake. Amen.