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!”
The last time anyone had referred to Jesus as “King of the Jews” was when He was an infant, when the three wise men had come from the east to honor Him. (Matthew 2:1-2) And then over thirty years later, as Pontius Pilate questioned Jesus, he asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And Jesus answered, “It is as you say.” (Matthew 27:11)
How strange it is that a Roman governor should be the first to ask Jesus such a question. Stranger still that mocking Roman soldiers–not the Jews themselves, not His own disciples–should be the first to crown this King. And yet the crown they gave was a twisted wreath of thorns–a crown of pain that He wore right through to His death.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
The King of kings was crowned in our stead. He who was King of the Jews from the line of David, He who was to sit down at the right hand of God–that King was crowned with a thorny circlet meant for us. He became our King, was coronated above us all by taking away the crown that should have been ours.
Would we cry out “Usurper!” to Him who bore our pain? Would we cry “Thief!” to the Man of sorrows who was mocked and beaten, clothed in the stripes and blood of our deserved punishment? Would we pursue our desire to be rulers of our own lives when the Lamb of God has shown us the crown that awaits us?
Would YOU prefer to wear the crown of thorns He bore? Would YOU prefer to have been mocked and beaten and scorned? Would YOU prefer to have carried the cross of your own crucifixion up the long road to Calvary? Would YOU prefer to have been nailed to that same cross for the crimes you have committed?
“Crimes?” you may ask. “What crimes?” The just due of all our sins is death (Romans 6:23), whether we have been caught and tried by men or whether we have managed to keep our sins secret from others. God will bring EVERYTHING into judgment, even the secret things we think no one knows about. (Ecclesiastes 12:14) For God does not judge as men do, He judges the intent of our heart, and the intent of every man is sin. (Genesis 6:5) Not Jesus but WE ourselves deserve the crown of thorns as kings and queens of sinfulness, as monarchs of pride, as high lords and ladies of rebellion and lies.
If we would seek to take that pain from Jesus through false preaching and human philosophy, if we would ignore what He has done and instead try to work out our own salvation through works and deeds, then we have emptied the Cross itself of its power to save. (1 Corinthians 1:17)
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus Christ joyfully bore the crown and the punishment and the scorn meant for us, “despising the shame” so that He would become Lord of our salvation. If we would ignore what He chose to do, then we would depose the King of kings Himself.
I do not worship the crown of thorns nor the cross nor the nails nor the spear nor the scourge–but nor do I forget them. For by those instruments, by His wounds themselves, I have been healed and justified. By bearing the crown of pain intended for me, Jesus has become Lord of all, and He has shown me that I do not need to be crowned in this life. On the contrary, if I would partake of this adoption into His royal family, I must humble myself and despise earthly crowns, seeking instead the incorruptible inheritance of glory and grace that is now mine through Jesus.
2 Timothy 4:8
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Do not ignore the crown of thorns. Do not despise it. For through that crown mockingly placed on the brow of the King of kings, you and I shall one day receive a crown of righteousness, an imperishable crown that is not accompanied by pain and scorn and punishment. In this life, if we truly bear witness of His gospel daily in the face of opposition and scorn, we will bear our own cross by facing pain and persecution in Jesus’ name. But the crown of thorns is Jesus’ alone, that He might be King of kings and Lord of our lives.
Jesus, Lord of my life, thank You for wearing the mocking crown intended for me. Thank You for being my Savior who bore my stripes in Your body. Thank You, Lord, for healing my life and cleansing my heart, and for giving me Your Spirit to guide and nurture my life. Let me never forget the crown You once wore for me, but let me honor Your true crown as King of kings. Amen.