Most scenes of Christ’s crucifixion include Him with a crown of thorns. The crown was meant to mock Christ. The Roman soldiers who carried out Pontius Pilate’s sentence were no different than those in our own world today. They added their own spin to the punishment. The story of the crown of thorns was recorded in all four Gospels. The crown was a symbol of disgrace. It was meant to make fun of Christ’s claim that He was the anointed King who would bring forward God’s kingdom on earth.
(John 19:2)1New International Version Translations – “The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe”
The imagery of the crucified Christ wearing a crown of thorns is important. It helps us to remember who Christ is and what He did for humankind. The crown of twisted thorns is our symbol of the curse brought about because of Adam’s first sin.
(Genesis 3:17-19) – To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
In Romans Chapter 5, the Apostle Paul argues that Adam’s sin also brought about sin for the whole world. As a result, this brought death to all humanity. The Apostle goes on to state that Christ’s death on the cross was the sacrifice for that original sin along with all later sins. Because the penalty for sin is now paid, there is a pathway to eternal life for all who repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah 53:6 says in a prophecy of Christ’s suffering for sin, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Christ’s crown of thorns does creates a theological paradox. Deep in the earth’s geologic record, before the supposed ‘first appearance’ of man, even before the supposed catastrophic ‘extinction’ of the dinosaurs at the end of the ‘Cretaceous period,’ fossils of thorns have been found, preserved in stone. Yet, Scriptures tell us that God created the world in six days. After He created man in His own image and likeness, He declared that all His creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). There was no death. No thorns and thistles to hamper humankind.
Because of Adam’s sin, the earth is now cursed. Humankind must now see their labors intertwined with thorns and thistles. Whether this is a metaphor or not, is up to your individual faith to answer. The bottom line is that we had it good and now we are cursed! Thorns and thistles are pictured throughout Scriptures as a bad thing (Numbers 33:55; Proverbs 15:19). They are remembered as the curse of sin. A judgment upon the nations (Isaiah 34:13). Thorns are viewed as objects that choke out the life of humankind.
(Matthew 13:3-8) – “Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Thorns and thistles in our world are meant to give us a constant reminder of God’s presence and His judgment. No one escapes our world without God’s righteous judgment. The King the world needed was sent by God. There He was standing in front of those Roman soldiers. Jesus announces this Kingdom to them and told everyone to change their minds. Stop thinking the way they are thinking. All are being called to believe on Him! Yet, He was despised and rejected. Led out of the city as a sheep to be slaughtered and die as a curse on a tree.
God’s Truth tells us that God’s Justice must always be served. Every transgression will be punished under the wrath of the Almighty. The people of Israel were looking for the wrong kind of king. Our world today is still looking for the wrong king. The people of Israel wanted a military king. The leaders of today want power, they all want to be that king! The question for all to ask is whether our greatest concern should be our deliverance from the wrath of evil nations? Is this the king we need? Or maybe all should be concerned about the delivery from the wrath of God for the punishment of our sins? Is the craziness of our world punishment from an awesome God?
God has already satisfied His need for justice in Christ. Jesus offered Himself as the payment for the sins of humankind. He was crushed under God’s wrath for us. The curse of God towards humanity for sin was taken up by Christ on the cross.
(2 Corinthians 5:21) – “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Our Scriptures outline a perfect plan. God is not random. The Scriptures reveal that to display God’s righteousness for the wicked, God had to satisfy His justice in something or someone else. Nothing in all creation could provide a enough payment for the sins of the world. Nor could any man with their own merit or with their own blood atone for their own sin (or anyone else’s). It took Christ on the cross to free us from the curse! We are called to repent from our old way of thinking, from our old way of living, and from our dead deeds. What are dead deeds? It is the false narrative that by accommodating the world, by redefining sinful behavior, and by being nice to people, an eternal blissful life awaits us all. That is not what Scriptures say! That eternal blissful life is out there but unless we are repentant and place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, only the eternal curse of thorns and thistles await.
(Romans 5:8) – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Our world tries to distract you with discussions on whether thorns were created millions of years ago, before dinosaurs. They will try to use the thorns to show that the Bible is not of God. They call it science. Our Bible tells us that “thorns” appeared only after the creation of Adam and Eve. My advice is to stick with God’s version of the story. It is a good story, easy story to understand. We need thorns in our world to be constantly reminded that God’s justice will prevail. It is human understanding that is flawed. The good news for us is that God did not leave us to perish without a Savior. He sent us Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God, the second member of the Trinity, the Incarnate God. He is the one and only King worth seeking. He is the King who will come to restore peace and prosperity to the nations. And He comes without the curse of thorns and thistles this time! No more curse of death! We know this because the Apostle John helps us see this in Revelations. John describes the new heaven and new earth, God’s Kingdom:
(Revelations 22:3) – “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.”
A simple 12th century hymn summarizes the hope we have. It’s lyrics tell how the curse of thorns is negated by the simple bloom of a Rose. This “Twelfth Night” German carol combines the story of Luke 1-2 and Matthew 2 with Isaiah’s prophecies about the “rose” from the “stem of Jesse ” (Isa. 11:1; 35:1-2). Stanzas 1 and 2 are a combination of folklore (“amid the cold of winter”) and Christological interpretation of Isaiah 11:1 and 35: 1-2. Stanza 3 introduces imagery from John 1. Thank you to our God for the Rose, the curse forever gone!
Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As men of old have sung.
It came, a flower bright,
Amid the cold of winter
When half-gone was the night.
Isaiah ’twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind:
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright
She bore to men a Savior
When half-gone was the night.
This Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.
True man, yet very God,
From sin and death He saves us
And lightens every load
- What external evidence to you consistently see that re-enforces your belief there is a God in our world?
- Ideas to Explore: Living things? Nature? The imperfections of humankind? The Bible?
- Do you think that Christianity can ever separate itself from the Bible?
- Ideas to Explore: Why do so many people hate it? Why are so many people trying to re-write it? How is it that we reassure ourselves that God is the author of the Bible?
- Most open-minded people agree that humanity is flawed – Can you think of a better plan than Christ?
- Ideas to Explore: What society without a belief in God has succeeded? Why don’t people just accept the Bible as God’s Word?
- Pick your favorite “ism.” Will any succeed forever?
- Ideas to Explore: How long does any society last? Why do they fail? Do any current successfully societies exist that are atheistic? Of the societies that are on your list, are people trying to get into them or out of them? Why?
- Assuming the basic needs of human survival are being met, what else would you want to see that would bring joy and happiness to your life?
- Ideas to Explore: Does humanity need freedom to be happy? Can someone else force happiness? What does it really take to be happy? Is it all about things?
- If you are of the opinion that the world is a mess, what is your plan to fix it?
- Ideas to Explore: Can humankind fix it? How does humanity ignore the evidence (thorns and thistles) of a broken world. How should our society change to stop the death, destruction, fix the poverty, end pain?
- 1New International Version Translations