Summary: Why did the soldiers place a crown of thorns on the head of Jesus? Could there be something more significant to it than we realize?
I am amazed at many of the details of the story of Jesus’ trials, His suffering, abuse, and mockery, and how that there is significance to each event, to each episode. This morning we took a graphic look at the torture He suffered in being scourged or flogged. The ripping apart of His flesh, the wounds, the blood - it does sound gory until I remember that He did it for me, and then it becomes glorious! We looked at how the Lord laid the sins of the world upon Him, and how that each lash with the scourge, though physically beating His back, it was, Spiritually speaking - beating my sin.
Well, tonight, I want to look at another episode that is linked with the scourging, and that is the wearing of the crown of thorns. And I want us to see that though the soldiers did it mockingly, that I think we can see some significance to it. Pilate had Jesus scourged, and John 19:2 says, “And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe.” Now remember, when a person was scourged, they were stripped of their clothing. So Jesus was naked as they beat Him, and tore apart His flesh.
After the scourging, they did three things: 1. Put a crown of thorns on His head. 2. Put a reed in His hand. 3. Put a purple robe on Him. Now, the word there for “robe” does not denote the long kind of robe, but just a short robe that came over the shoulders, and barely covered the chest. So He was naked from the chest down, bleeding, and suffering. Then they put a reed in His hand as a type of mock scepter - the official staff of a king or ruler, symbolizing authority and power. But a reed, a hollow-stemmed brass was a symbol of weakness. Jesus had even referred to them as “shaking in the wind.”
So these soldiers, vulgar no doubt in their comments to Him, as He stands their naked and bleeding, were really enjoying this torture, and took every opportunity to degrade, deface, and down Him. And so with the short robe on, and the reed as a scepter in His hand, they also “platted a crown of thorns, and placed it upon His head.” The thorns referred to here are very long, sometimes even 3½ inches in length. So the soldiers made this crown, and shoved it down onto His head. No doubt they pierced the skin of Jesus, and more blood began to run down His face. What mockery and shame He bore for us.
But what of it? What about this crown of thorns? I just want us to look at something interesting in the Bible and see if we can’t find some encouragement out of the fact that He wore the crown of thorns. The first thing we see, in regard to thorns, is that they were a product of the curse. In Genesis 3:17-19 it says, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife . . . and eaten of the tree which I commanded thee . . . cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow . . . thorns and thistles shall it bring forth . . . in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat.” So the thorns were a product of the curse that came because of sin.
They are, then, a sign of three things: 1. Sin. 2. Sorrow. 3. Sweat. The soldiers used the thorns to mock Christ, but through their mockery, God still shows us even more so, how that Jesus bore our sins. When God put our sins upon Christ, what better symbol than putting thorns on His head. “For he hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). But let’s look at something about the fact that He wore a crown. A crown is representative of authority, ruler-ship, and power.