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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Amish open cart
Yesterday we came across this interesting scene near New Holland, Pennsylvania. The driver was apparently racing the cart down a road with a young man holding a white flag at the end of the run (not pictured).

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"The Crown Of Thorns"

"They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked him. 'Hail, king of the Jews!' they said" (Matthew 27:28,29).

The church we served in New England, like many churches, has a large cross on the front wall behind the platform.  The cross is a reminder of the place where Jesus sacrificially gave His life for our sins. One hymn poignantly describes the cross of Christ as, "the emblem of suffering and shame."

Paul acknowledged in his time that the message of the cross was "foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). Of course today many still consider the very notion of the cross foolishness, but we write to those, who like us, view it as the ultimate demonstration of God's power and the only hope we have for salvation.

Crown of ThornsSteve Higgins, a friend in our New England church, made a crown out of thorny branches and we placed it on the cross as a reminder of the crown of thorns forcibly placed on the head of our Lord during His passionate outpouring of love and forgiveness toward all. Physically touching the long sharp pointed thorns enhances one's visualization of how such a crown of thorns would pierce the brow of our Lord and Savior. 

This week we've taken time to "consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men" and the specific forms of pain and shame imposed upon Him leading up to His crucifixion. In doing so we have pondered that he was betrayed, spit upon, beaten, slapped and mocked with irreverent blasphemy.

Today let us consider the Crown of Thorns. Matthew, Mark and John all mention this degrading act. Matthew makes it clear that it was motivated by mockery. The mock crown was formed by twisting together thorny branches.  I can’t help but wonder about the men who "twisted together the crown of thorns."

Did they joke around as they deviously fashioned this makeshift crown?  Did they curse as they endured inevitable scratches and pricks while shaping the thorny branches?  Which one of them creased the Lord's brow with the crown of thorns? 

Did any of them look on as blood splattered from the penetrating thorns that gouged His head and dripped down on Jesus' sacred face as "again and again they struck Him on the head with a staff and spit on Him" (Mark 15:19a).  Was it then that perhaps one of the offenders realized that this One they treated so contemptuously was truly innocent?

This crown of thorns was indeed a mockery of His royalty. The soldiers placed it on His head and John indicates that He wore this crown when He came out from His trial with Pilate (John 19:5). Mark describes the blasphemous act of mockers as they "fell on their knees and paid homage to Him" (Mark 15:19b)

But the writer of Hebrews writes of a crown that Jesus now wears as a direct result of His sacrificial, atoning death on the Cross. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone" (see here).

Today one of the grand songs of the Church is the hymn "Crown Him With Many Crowns" a likely allusion to Revelation 4:9-11.  Jesus Christ truly endured the enormous indignity of a crown of thorns mockingly placed on His head.  Today let us reverently crown Him with many crowns as we place our faith in Him. Let us seek to live our lives in a manner worthy of His sacrifice.

Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne...
Crown Him the Lord of Love!  Behold His hands and side…
Crown Him the Lord of life!  Who triumphed o'er the grave…
Crown Him the Lord of heaven!  One with the Father known…*

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, we crown You the Lord of love!  Your love that endured the shameful actions of those You chose to die for.  We crown You the Lord of life, for You triumphed o'er the physical grave and took away the permanence and sting of death for all believers.  We crown You the Lord of heaven where You returned to be One with the Father.  You've promised to return again and take us to be with You where we will dwell eternally with You and all the saints whose sins are cleansed by the blood You shed on the cross of Calvary.  Thank You, Jesus!  Amen.

* First lines of the four verses of "Crown Him With Many Crowns"

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.

This week we will share links to songs dealing with the Cross and Christ's redemtive work and will add to them through the week with the most recent at the top.

"Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Video

"O Sacred Head Now Wounded"
 Video  a beautiful Fernando Ortega version.

"How Deep The Father's Love For Us"
 Audio  Video

"Your Grace Still Amazes Me"  Video 

"It's Still The Cross"
 Audio  Video  See here for lyrics. (This is the song referred to in Monday's message.)

"The Wonderful Cross"  Video  We sang this song in our church service on Sunday.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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