Archives for posts with tag: crown of thorns

When I consider the infamy of the events associated with the crucifixion of Christ, at first glance, I find the crown of thorns to be the most innocuous, something akin to a P.S. in a letter. But is it really the case?

Most scholars agree that the thorns were not meant primarily as an instrument of torture. While there was pain associated with it, death by crucifixion by itself won the crown in that department.

So, if not pain, what? The answer is mockery. The soldiers were simply making sport of Jesus. Isaiah said that the Messiah was going to be “despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Even in the smallest of details, Jesus fit the part.

In fact, there is quite a bit of taunting around His passion. From the people who dared Him to come down from the cross to the leading priests who said that He had saved others but could not save Himself. From the governor who suggested He should show a little more deference in front of the one who could free Him to the thief who sarcastically questioned Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. Words like “mock,” “scoff,” “sneer,” etc. are littered throughout the resurrection narratives.

The crown of thorns, contrary to the cross, represents the subtlety of the human heart that is bent on mocking Christ but would not join the mob chanting “Crucify Him!” The cross is more blatant; the crown, more insidious.

Most of us are “bring out the crown” types before we become “bring out the cross” types. We harbor resistance in our hearts. We cover up the darkness that puts us at enmity with God by staying in the periphery. Sadly, many times, we have the type of skepticism that shakes our core and sometimes guides our conduct. We conjure up a mild form of resistance to Christ so we can cry out at the end: “I didn’t ask Him to be crucified!”

The soldiers mocked Jesus. Pilate mocked Jesus. Religious leaders mocked Jesus. Passersby mocked Jesus. And many people across this vast world still mock Jesus. And that’s why the crown was there, next to the cross, to remind us that not all rebels are made from the same cloth. Mockers are never created equal and Jesus’ crucifixion proves that.

As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, it is time for us to examine our hearts for any signs of “silent” rebellion against God, confess our sins, and embrace the resurrected Messiah. It would be appropriate for us to remind ourselves that one day He is coming to claim His legitimate crown as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And this time, He is donning a judge’s toga.

Jesus is Risen!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

The readings for this section are found in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 18-19.

Mockery of the Highest Order

The crown, the purple robe, the chants of “hail to the king,” they would be funny if they had not been accompanied by the 39 lashes with the leather whip tipped with bones (or metal).

Pilate used Jesus to make peace with Herod, but He also used Jesus to mock the Jews. He wanted to get closer to Herod but as far away from the Jews as he could. In allowing the guards to treat Jesus with violence and contempt, his goal was to humiliate those who thought themselves so superior they couldn’t even approach a gentile before Passover.

Pilate had Jesus beaten and ridiculed, then presented the one who harmed no one, now the disfigured Messiah, as their “king.” Thus he made Jesus the king he thought the Jews deserved. Pilate’s contempt for the Jews was so visceral that he had to break Jesus and rob him of any semblance of decency before he went out and mockingly said, “Behold, your king!” As long as he taunted the Jews, Pilate didn’t care what happened to Jesus. Jesus was like a pawn in the hands of divorcees who hate each other, with one major difference — in this case, even the judge seemed to have turned against the innocent one in the middle.

But it was not out of cruelty that the Father turned His back on Jesus. Jesus Himself had spoken about how He was going to die: “‘And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.’ He said this to indicate how he was going to die.” (John 12:32-33). 

The fact that Jesus remained silent and took the blows was a testimony to His commitment to God’s plan of redemption for all of us. In Judaism, Jesus was practicing what is known as “anivut,” which had already been exhibited by Moses a long time before Jesus. “Anivut,” according to Rabbi Norman Lamm, is “a soft answer to a harsh challenge; silence in the face of abuse; graciousness when receiving honor; dignity in response to humiliation; restraint in the presence of provocation; forbearance and quiet calm when confronted with calumny and carping criticism.”  

Not a bad collection of attributes to hang somewhere visibly to remind you that the world doesn’t always belong to the strongest. Better yet, forget the hanging of words — just go and practice them.

But Jesus wasn’t simply being an “anivat” (“the humble one”). Not even the Son of God has the obligation to act nobly in the face of terrible injustices. As He reminded his hearers, He could have called ten thousand angels. But He didn’t. Instead, He subjected His will to the will of His Father and was willing to absorb the blows to His body, the spitting on His face, and the blasphemy of despicable, debasing words uttered in the presence of the divine. And He did all of that so His Father could declare those who turn to Him clean and forgiven. In other words, He went to the cross for you. What are you willing to do for Him?

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade