When Jesus was on trial for his life, the soldiers twisted thorns into a makeshift crown and jammed it on his head (John 19:2). They hung a purple robe on him and ridiculed him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews,” while they punched and kicked him.
Jesus was the king, and yet his rule was preceded by rejection, ridicule and suffering. His painful crown of thorns was one more demonstration of his right to rule a world filled with pain and suffering. At the same time, it was a symbol of hope for us, reminding us that we are joined to Jesus in the crucible of suffering.
The crown of thorns is not just part of a movie scene in which we are overwhelmed with the suffering that Jesus went through to be our Savior. Jesus said that if we want to follow him, we must take up our cross each day. He could just as easily have said that we must put on our crown of thorns. We are joined to Jesus in the crucible of suffering.
In Romans 8:17-18, the apostle Paul wrote:
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Jesus accepted the crown of thorns as part of his bitter cup of enduring what humans endure, as part of opening the door for us to escape with him from this world of tears. In this world, oppressors jam thorns on their victims. And in this world, Jesus suffered whatever they wanted to do with him to redeem us all from this world of ungodliness and thorns.
As a result, he says to every man, woman and child,
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
We all experience our crowns of thorns. We all have our crosses to bear. We all live in this fallen world and take part in its pain and sorrow. But the crown of thorns and the cross of death have met their match in Jesus. In him we have life, life that at present cannot be seen, but is nonetheless real.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:7:
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
We live in hope, knowing that this life is not all there is—that the day is coming when our faith will be sight, when all the promises will reach their ultimate fulfillment, when every tragedy of this life will be turned into the joy of the world to come. John wrote Revelation 21:3-5:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
Whatever crises we face in this life, we can take comfort and courage in two things. Our suffering is a participation in Jesus’ suffering. And Jesus has for us a new life—beyond this one—in which there will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain.
Author: Joseph Tkach