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d.e. buffaloe

A Crown Of Thorns
 

Matthew 27:27-31 "Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. [28]  And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. [29]  And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon 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! [30]  And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. [31]  And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him."

Consider the mocking and sarcasm that our Lord Jesus suffered prior to the Cross! Jesus is the Light, and the darkness hates the Light. How cruelly was our Jesus handled by the soldiers! What need was there, on top of crucifying Him, to dress Him in a mocking Robe? What need was there, on top of crucifying Him, to crush thorns down on His precious head? Was it not enough to have the nails invade His body, pinning Him as an insect to a tree? Was this evil incarnate, to crucify Him in such a way, between two thieves who were not handled nearly as rough? But God's hand and Will is shown in the text of Scripture, even amidst the cruelty of the soldiers.

Matthew 27:29  "And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon 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 text tells us that the soldiers "platted a crown of thorns", that is, they braided (PLEKO) long vines of thorns together to form a crown.

There are two types of thorn plants that grow around the Holy Land, one called the Zizyphus Spina Christi and the other qundaul. Both have long, flexible twigs that can be woven into crowns, though the qundaul has the harshest thorns of the two. Considering the cruelty of the soldiers, most theologians believe that the qundaul plant was used, with it's spikes of 1 to 11/2  long. The Roman soldiers had to weave this common plant very carefully indeed, for if they were careless, they would be wounded just as easily as they wounded our Jesus. What purpose drove the Romans to take that extra step of torture? Such a undertaking, to braid the qundaul, was risky business, and was certainly work, not pleasure. This was not something easily accomplished in a moment, not something accomplished without risk to the craftsman. Indeed, weaving the qundaul was dangerous, but something drove them to perform this feat, Someone allowed such a terrible but necessary action.


The Source Of Thorns

Thorns were not with creation in its beginning. In the beginning God lovingly sculptured creation, created the soft colors of green in grass and trees, the beautiful blue sky, the vibrant reds and yellows of the flowers of the fields. Everything was made beautiful and soft, and all things were designed in such a way as to bring enjoyment to Man, the pinnacle of God's creation. We were designed to walk and talk with our Creator in the Garden, and our work was easy, for no thorns or weeds were allowed in this wonderful place.

Imagine a world where there was no crime, no pain, no suffering, no aging. Imagine nature where there was no killing, and where all animals ate of the plant life, and not their neighbors. Imagine a place where there was no war, only peace, a place where there was Heaven on earth - and you imagine Eden.

Man was at peace with himself, at peace with God, and at peace with creation itself. Creation, in fact, was at peace with man and at peace with itself. Then man, in his foolish ignorance, walked away from God. We are told in Scripture that man ate of a forbidden fruit, but what that fruit was is unimportant. What is important is that man walked away, fell into the death of sin, and brought death on two innocents.

Man was not innocent, because man chose to sin. Woman was not innocent, for she chose this pathway of disobedience. We deserve our fates, deserve the punishment we received. Some would say to me, "But I, myself, didn't do it. I myself didn't eat of that forbidden fruit, so I don't see why I should be punished along with Adam!". Be aware that it is because of God's Grace that we all weren't destroyed along with Adam on that fateful day. God had every right to destroy man - but held His hand - so who are we to protest? Yes, we all got what we deserved in the Garden, but we also got Grace, which we did not deserve.

The first Innocent to suffer was Jesus Christ:

Genesis 3:15  "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

When God cursed the Serpent, Satan, He foretold that one day the Son would come in human form and crush the Serpent's head (bruise = SHUWPH = to overwhelm). Satan would have no crown of thorns pressed down on his head, but would suffer the nail pierced foot of Christ as He rose triumphant over that old Devil. The Serpent used and continues to use devious sinful logic to lead man into sin, so Christ would smash and bruise Satan's sinful head. In order to do this the Son had to take human form (thou shalt bruise his heel), and would have to be wounded, though not destroyed, in this battle. Jesus would bear this burden because of the Great Grace of God - we didn't deserve such consideration, but His love demanded He save us anyway.

The second Innocent to suffer was Nature itself:

Genesis 3:17-19 "And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; [18]  Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; [19]  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

With the words "cursed is the ground for thy sake" God emphasized that we carried Creation, that perfect Creation, along with us in Sin. The next time you watch a nature show on television and see the beautiful and gentle antelope chased down and torn apart by wolves, remember, this is the result of our sin. When you see the gentle zebra chased to exhaustion, then, as it falls to the ground, being eaten alive by the lion, remember, this is the result of our folly. The rabbit did not consent to follow nature in its fall, nor did the fox eat of the forbidden fruit. Man did this, and creation paid the price.

Genesis 3.18  "Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field .."

The gentle, soft colors and easy harvest of the field and dale were corrupted by sharp things, corrupted by "thorns also and thistles".  The corn didn't ask to share its row with the thorn, but was cursed because its master, Man, fell. The stinging and putrid thistles were planted in between the good fruits to punish man, but they also punished nature. Harshness entered nature because of our failure, and all suffered under the dreadful dictator of Sin.

The Source of Salvation

From the time of the fall of man we looked for a Source of Salvation from among ourselves, and found none. Nature itself cried out for a Savior, cried out to be released from the thorns which were a testimony of our failure in the Garden. Then one day, in the most unexpected way, we were surprised by joy. Like Abraham about to sacrifice his son, we found a Ram trapped in the thorns:

(Genesis 22:13 KJV) "And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son."

When you look at Jesus on the Cross, don't overlook the Crown of Thorns on His head. The Roman soldiers wove these thorns together as a mockery. I can imagine them now, in my mind's eye, as they cut the long supple twigs and begin weaving them. I can see them as they weave, and accidentally stick themselves, cursing God, and continue with that weaving. They meant it for evil, but God allowed it for good.

For when they brought those thorns before Jesus, the thorns symbolized the corruption that man brought into nature by his foolishness. The thorns represented the innocence of nature destroyed because of our father Adam, and when the thorns were crushed down on Jesus' head they drove into his forehead and scalp. Blood coated these thorns, and opened a door where one day nature can be fully redeemed from our folly. Environmentalists, no matter how well meaning, cannot return nature to what it was in Eden - but Jesus will. He paid for that right, on the Cross - took the thorns and bathed them with His blood.

The blood that ran down His face from the thorns fell on that Robe of mocking they placed on Him:

Matthew 27.28  "And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe."

The sin that man committed in the Garden made him look at himself, realize his nakedness, and be ashamed because of it.

Genesis 3:10-11 "And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. [11] And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?"

The soldiers stripped Jesus to try and shame Him, meaning this for evil. But God allowed this, because it was necessary for the Son to bear the nakedness of our sin, Nothing could stand between Him and the sins of the world as He hung on that Cross. There was no shield to prevent the full weight of our sins from descending on Him, not even the thin clothing that this lovely poor Man wore. Though Jesus was literally under a crown a thorns, there was no where He could hide, as we hid, in the Garden. Adam hid himself behind a bush or a tree, but Jesus had to be openly paraded, mocked, and hung on that Tree.

The scarlet Robe that they put on Him, the Robe that absorbed the blood from the thorns, was placed there in mockery. Again, they meant it for evil, but God allowed it for good. The King of all, Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ had every right to wear the finest of robes, and this was surely the finest of the fine. Scarlet, to symbolize that, as a Lamb of sacrifice, Jesus must suffer as our Blood Atonement. A kingly robe, symbolizing that Jesus was and is the King of all, but that Robe had to be stripped from Him before He was nailed to the tree. He Who came from eternity had to allow all His power and all His majesty to be stripped from Him in order to make that necessary payment.

Matthew 27:29-30  "... a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! [30]  And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head."

As a final mocking, the soldiers placed a mock scepter from a weak, limber reed in His hands. A scepter created from fallen nature, a limber, weak reed so easily shaken by the wind. After giving Him the mock scepter, the soldiers took it away again and "smote him" (ETUPTON, Imperfect Tense = kept on beating Him) with it. The soldiers passed the reed around, and each man had a turn at beating Him, beating Him, until He was so horribly disfigured that even His mother had difficulty recognizing Him. Though the scepter of mockery was forcefully taken from Him, Jesus laid down the Scepter He rightfully held as eternal God, so that He could go to the Cross for us. He made that payment, rose again on the third day, then ascended in power to triumphantly reclaim the Divine Scepter:

Hebrews 1:8  "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom."

 

Application

Isaiah 53:5-10 "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. [6] All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. [7] He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. [8] He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. [9] And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. [10] Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand."

You may have been sitting there today thinking, just as Pilate thought, "This has nothing to do with me. I was not in the Garden, I did not commit that first, terrible sin. I live a good life, I am a good person, a moral person. What have I to do with any of this?"

The fact is, you have everything to do with this. The reality is that you are the offspring of Adam, that first sinner, and you, yourself, are a sinner. You very walk, and every thought, are an abomination to God. There is no good in you, no good at all, and all your hand washing and good works will do nothing to give you peace in this life, much less entrance into Heaven.

"Isaiah 53:5 .. he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

Pilate sentenced a man he knew to be just to the gallows in order to placate a crowd, then washed his hands as if that would remove the guilt of the sin. Yet washing with water does nothing to save - you may be a member of this Church, may have been publicly baptized, but unless you have accepted what Jesus Christ did for you at Calvary, you are lost in your sin. You can put on fancy clothes to hide your nakedness, but unless you have fully accepted Jesus you are merely hiding the problem.

Ask yourself this: "Do I see the fruit of righteousness, the fruit of Salvation in my life?" If you do, then God bless you, you are secure in the Blood of Christ. If not, then heed these words:

Luke 6:46-49 "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? [47]  Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:  [48]  He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. [49]  But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."

A Christian is fruitful, not by my standards, but by God's. If you are walking as the unbeliever walks then take heed - the Saved bear fruit, the unsaved do not. Do not hesitate, nor waffle when the Call is given. The Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart right now, calling you to a new life in Christ. Answer that call, I beg you, lest "the ruin of that house was great".
 
D.L. Moody called it the biggest blunder of his life. It happened n October 8, 1871, during a preaching series in Farwell Hall, Chicago. His text was “What then shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ.” At the conclusion of the sermon Moody said he would give the people one week to make up their minds about Jesus. He then turned to Ira Sankey for a solo, and Sankey sand “Today the Saviour Calls.” But by the third verse Sankey’s voice was drowned out by the noise outside the hall. The great Chicago fire had begun, and the flames were even then sweeping toward the Hall. The clanging of the fire bells and the noise of the engines made it impossible to continue the meeting. In the years that followed, Moody wished that he had called for an immediate decision for Christ.

CLOSURE

This sermon was preached to the Saints at Okapilco Baptist Church on the morning of January 2, 2000
The sermon was edited and re-presented to the Saints at Harmony House on the evening of July 14, 2002