I walked into our empty house yesterday morning after attending Bible study and saw this sight: Apparently, my mom had placed this crown of thorns against the shades in our living room while I was gone.
My eyes immediately filled with tears.
On the drive home, my thoughts had been filled with thoughts of so many earthly concerns that they had temporarily drowned out the knowledge that this is Holy Week. The week of Christ’s suffering and shame, betrayal, beating, crucifixion and ultimately His triumphant resurrection.
How easy it is to forget the eternal in the midst of the daily mundane.
The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head. They clothed Him in a purple robe and went up to Him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck Him in the face. (John 19:2-3).
This, of course, was done after Jesus had been beaten nearly to death by Roman soldiers with a flagrum whip. This whip consisted of multiple leather cords that were weighted with lead balls and pieces of sheep bone. The bone was designed to reach into the skin, latch onto it, and rip it out.
Jesus had been tied to a flogging post while the whip was used repeatedly (at least 40 times). This was an extremely bloody and painful process that was designed to humiliate and inflict maximum damage. Sometimes people would not survive this torture. They would often bleed to death as their arteries and veins were laid bare (sometimes their intestines would fall out, so severe was the beating) and the skin on the back would be left in ribbons.
Of course, Jesus did survive this brutality…only to have a painful crown of thorns pressed into his head. The Roman soldiers did not delicately place this monstrous crown on his head either. They would have pressed it deep into his skull so that it pierced and tore into his skin, causing blood to run down his face. After mocking Him and hitting Him some more, they dragged him out in front of the crowd for all to see.
They did this to God in human form.
In his book A Violent Grace (highly recommended), author Michael Card sets the scene: “Could that be Jesus?” one person whispers to another. Look! The hands that had healed them were bound. The head that bent over their children is pierced by spines. The face that lifted up thanks before feeding them by the thousands is streaked with blood.
Jesus will carry that twisted crown of shame into the wasteland of our sin. He will become lost there and forsaken.
To re-create and redeem this cursed world. Sinful man, who brought the kingdom of thorns down upon his own head, was helpless to save himself. But praise be to God! The One who wore those thorns like a crown DID conquer the curse. The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus is now “crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9). —pp 88,90
We all know the rest of the story.
Jesus wore that crown of thorns on the cross where He died the most horrific death known to man. He died the death that you and I deserve because of our sin. He took our place. He paid our fine. He wore our shame so that we could know dignity. He took every single drop of God’s wrath against sin so that terrifying wrath would never fall on us. He was deserted by the Father so that we would always know His Presence and His love.
He wore that crown of thorns for me.
He wore that crown of thorns for you.
Yet how often we forget.
How often I forget His awe-inspiring sacrifice, His fierce, eternal love that reaches beyond the grave.
I needed to see that crown of thorns.
It is a vivid reminder that out of the worst horror, the greatest beauty emerged and death was conquered forever.
I had to end up moving the crown because it was poking holes into the shades.
I think that is the very best place for that crown of thorns.
If Jesus had not worn that crown on Good Friday, we could never have known the Author of true joy.
I am unspeakably grateful.
May we never lose sight of the beauty of the Cross.
“On one hand, the cross is a mirror held up to my sin that shows me, through the price that was paid, just how thoroughly lost I am:
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)
On the other hand, the cross is a window held up to my Lord that shows how greatly loved I am:
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
The cross of Jesus gives the gift of that great love to you and to me.
And there is no greater love.” —Michael Card, A Violent Grace, p. 181