Speaking Of Life 3018 | Coronation of Thorns
The crown of thorns is perhaps the best-known image in the Christian tradition other than the cross itself. Jewelry, church decorations, and art imagery all carry the familiar image of the barbed circle that was on Jesus’ head as he was paraded through Jerusalem and then nailed to a cross.
It’s so common, we sometimes don’t think about it. But just this one detail of description teaches us a bit more about Jesus.
The first time we see thorns in scripture is in the tragic declaration of the curse after Adam and Eve brought sin into the world:
Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
Genesis 3:17-18 (ESV)
It’s clear that thorns were part of the curse. Continuing throughout the Old Testament, we see thorns and thistles often representing sin and the people forsaking God.
“Thorns will be in their tents,” says Hosea. “They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns,” Jeremiah proclaims. Isaiah declares, “briars and thorns will come up.”
In contrast to this, when God is present and the people walk with him, streams appear in the desert and the promises always involve growth, flowers, and abundance.
But back to Jesus. Back to the soldiers putting a purple robe on him and giving him a grisly coronation of thorns. It is just prior to his death that Jesus is lifted up under the sign of king.
This is his enthronement. The very moment of his humiliating death was his victory, and the Kingdom was declared as he screamed his last. He took our pain and loss and sin into himself, and in death, the crowning result of sin was undone.
The thorns, the enduring symbol of the desolation of sin, became instead the crown of Jesus the king.
He turned shame into glory. Then he told us to live every day in this upside-down kingdom, where the last shall be first, the weak are the strong and the thorns become crowns.
What does it mean to live in that existence, not only as a far-off promise of a blissful afterlife but of the transforming reality of the world that he has overcome? It is a freedom to live life in his fullness, to participate in his victory, to look at the crown of thorns as a reminder that Jesus is King.
I am Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.