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April 4, 2012

Crown of thorns

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"The Crown Of Thorns"

"And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, 'Hail, King of the Jews!'" (John 19:2,3). "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" (Hebrews 2:9).

The church we served in New England, like many churches, has a large cross on the front wall behind the platform. One year Steve Higgins, a friend who attends the 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 Saviour during His passionate outpouring of love and forgiveness toward all. As I recall we left that thorny crown up even beyond the Easter season and perhaps it's still there.

Thorns This week we've been examining specific plants and animals that are part of the Holy Week narrative beginning with the palm branches Monday and the donkey yesterday. Today let us consider a plant that we may tend to overlook, the plant that the crown of thorns was made of.

We've all probably been pierced by thorns at some point, especially if we enjoy walks in the woods. Physically touching the long sharp pointed thorns enhances one's sensitivity of how such a crown of thorns would painfully pierce the brow of our Lord and Savior.

The Bible History online site makes this observation: "His crown of thorns, the crown that fallen humanity placed on his head was an awful symbol showing man’s complete contempt for all that God loves and values. It was also emblematic of our Savior's love for all of us and our minds which are deceived and pained by so much of this world’s lies. Perhaps it is also a vicarious witness that he bore the very thorns created by man’s original sin and rebellion in the garden, so that we might one day wear the crown of life and glory."

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 these soldiers 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 upon 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" (Hebrews 2:9).

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

Praying womanDaily 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 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 to earth 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"

We appreciate the response to our little quiz inquiring what plants and animals are a part of the Holy Week narrative in the Scriptures.
1) The Palm tree (branches) on Monday
2) The donkey on Tuesday
3) The thorns which were used in the crown of thorns today
We will consider two more the remainder of the week.

Root's Market near Manheim PA
Yesterday afternoon we went to Root's Country Market, a huge open air market held each Tuesday, here in Lancaster County. Root's is a traditional Country Market and a part of the heritage of the Pennsylvania Dutch area.

Hershey tulips (photo by Ester Weber)
Ester is becoming quite an enthusiast in her photography and snapped this photo of tulips in Hershey, PA last Friday

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

Here are some songs dealing with the Cross and Christ's redemptive work.

"It's Still The Cross"  Video  This is an outstanding song I have enjoyed the last several years. This is a group of young people from the University of Mobile who really do it justice.  See here for lyrics.

"The Power Of The Cross"  Video  Again,the young people from the University of Mobile
. Very well done.

"Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Video  Maranatha Singers

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

"How Deep The Father's Love For Us"
  Video  Sarah Sadler

"Your Grace Still Amazes Me"  Video 

Bible History online

Root's Market

(We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

“It's Still The Cross!”

(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)

Pastor: Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18

Congregation: This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. Acts 2:23

Pastor:  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Congregation: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Pastor: By abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:15-17

Congregation: He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.  Philippians 2:7-9  

Pastor: For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19,20 

Congregation: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

All: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3

Major Events of the Passion Week

Here's an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.

  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19
  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Mt. 21:12,13; Mk. 11:15-17; Lk. 19:45,46
  • Jesus' authority challenged in the temple: Mt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:27-33; Lk. 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Mt. 21:28-23:36; Mk. 12:1-40; Lk. 20:9-47   
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: Jn. 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Mt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10,11; Lk. 22:3-6
  • The Last Supper:  Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  Jn 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Mt. 26:47-56; Mk. 14:43-52; Lk. 22:47-53; Jn. 18:2-12
  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Mt 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mk 14:53-15:20; Lk 22:54-23:25; Jn 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Mt 27:31-56; Mk 15:20-41; Lk 23:26-49; Jn 19:17-30
  • The glorious resurrection: Mt. 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-11; Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)

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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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O Lord, be gracious unto us,.... This is a prayer of the church under the persecutions of antichrist, imploring the grace and favour of God in their miserable and distressed circumstances; desiring his gracious help, assistance, and deliverance; pleading not any merits of their own, but casting themselves upon the mercy and kindness of God: