The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!”
When we think of a crown, we imagine something that Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth or Elsa the Snow Queen from Frozen would wear. To us, a crown of thorns means thorns from a rose bush with short, pudgy thorns.
I’m convinced the crown Jesus wore wasn’t none of these. While in the Garden of Gethsemane, we saw thorns recently pruned from bushes. The pictured thorns were in a refuse pile when I rescued them. Look closely. The thorns are 4-5 inches long. Imagine these thorns woven into a crown and pushed down over the top of a person’s head to make sure the crown would stay on. Are you getting a different picture?
To secure a crown on Jesus’ head required some thorns be pushed into the skull. These thorns are spiky. Not a pleasant feeling. Jesus’ crown is not a beautiful crown. It’s a crown of jest. Imagine the thorns causing blood to drip down Jesus’ face. Why would a person allow the soldiers to make fun of him, with a crown, a purple robe and mocking? Because he had to.
I recently saw the movie 12 Years a Slave. It tells the true story of how a free African-American man from Washington D.C. was sold into slavery. In the mid-1800’s, he spent 12 years working for white masters. While traveling to a master’s farm, another slave tells him to say as little as possible and not let the master know he can read and write. This is necessary for survival.
For many American people, we feel it is important to stand up for ourselves, defend our position, make sure justice is fair. Contrarily, this man follows the advice most of the time. Near the movie’s end, he takes a risk hoping it will lead to freedom.
Jesus never tries to barter, beg or negotiate with Pilate, the soldiers or the religious leaders. He just accepts his lot. He’s the King of the Jews, the Son of God, crown of thorns and all. Why did he allow the mocking, the beating, the humiliation? Simple. Because he loves you.
Lord God, it is hard to understand how nasty and awful your death was. We prefer it to not be so horrendous. When confronted with the real side of your death, it’s more than we can stomach. Thank you for accepting this lot. Thank you for being willing. Thank you for dying. Amen.
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