They made him a crown. Of all the things that were meant to be humiliating, of all the insults, of all the things they could have done – they made him a crown. Most thorns are made to protect, to keep predators away from the plant and keep it safe. Make no mistake, these thorns were not meant to protect, they were meant to hurt. Not only the flesh that they pieced, but the heart of the man that wore them.
Matthew 27:27-29 (ESV)
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
Many years ago, the Jews had wanted an earthly king. Jealous of all their neighboring nations, they wanted a man who would make them a powerful and just nation. God had always intended to be their king, to give them the law and to rule them through righteous and holy judges. But they wanted a man. A man of upstanding reputation, one who would rescue them from their enemies, and save them from the dishonor they had so often faced. They wanted someone to lead them in battle, an earthly leader in which to place their hope and their trust. Over the years many men wore the crown – some good, and many bad – but none had ever been capable of replacing God and his law.
Now they have in their midst, one who claims to be the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The one who has come to replace the law and make good on all the failings of all the others. He has no plans for a war on governments or nations, only on sin and death. The only death they are concerned about now is his. They are convinced he cannot be who he claims to be or who they thought he was – and all that can make it right is for his blood to be shed.
Kings are supposed to be brave. To put themselves in harms way. They are supposed to be willing to lay their life on the line. And though they do not see it – this is exactly what he is doing. He takes a beating from glass and stone. He carries his weapon through the streets that a mere 5 days ago held his welcome parade. Though he falls again and again, he gets up each time and finds his way to the frontline of the battle. And then, with all of heaven and earth watching, he climbs up onto the cross and lays down his life – brutally, bloodily, unfairly and unjustly, but willingly, lays down the one thing we all cling so desperately to. His life.
Many years ago I made Jesus the king of my life. I promised to honor and obey him, and to let him rule over me. It was a promise I meant, and yet one I could never keep. So many times since then I have taken away his crown and tried to put it on myself. To rule and reign over myself – and placed my trust in my own power. But his crown does not fit on me. Not the crown of the King, nor the one he wore that day he sacrificed himself for me. I am sure I am not the only one. The truth about you and I is that we can never be the king we want – or the one we need.
The Jews wanted a king, and they got one. This Friday, their king has already come. Their king carried our sin and our shame. Their king lay down on a cross and took the nails for us and for them. On the head of that king, they placed a crown of thorns – and that crown and head hangs seemingly defeated. All is wrong with the world today. The King – is dead.