CHRIST'S CROWN OF THORNS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, April 4, 2004
at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"And when they had platted [woven] a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed [a hollow stem that grew by the rivers, a few feet in length] in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head" (Matthew 27:29-30).


Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, ordered his soldiers to scourge Jesus. After they scourged Him, the soldiers took Jesus to the common hall, where they draped His torn and lacerated body with a scarlet robe. They put a long reed, a hardened hollow stem that grew by the river side, into His trembling hands. They put a crown of thorns on His head. The thorns were pressed down into the flesh of His temple. Blood ran into His eyes.

Frederick S. Leahy gives this description of the event.

Behind the scenes the soldiers have had their fun with the Prisoner. Having heard that he claimed to be a king, they dressed him in a purple robe, possibly a soldier's red cloak, made a crown of thorns and put it on his head, placing a reed in his hand for a sceptre. This parody continued as they bowed in mock [reverence] saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" smiting him and spitting on him and striking him repeatedly on the head with the stiff reed that served as a sceptre (Matthew 27:28-30). Godet is probably right when he sees this mockery addressed more to the Jewish nation, despised by the Romans, than to Christ personally. But that did not detract from the suffering and abuse resulting from this rough horse-play. The rendering of John 19:5 in the King James Version points to that dramatic moment when Christ was brought forth for all to see: "then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns…" That sad spectacle left its mark for ever on John's mind (Frederick S. Leahy, The Cross He Bore, Banner of Truth Trust, 1996, p. 51).

What a sight this is! God's only begotten Son with blood running down His face from the cruel thorns that pierced His head! The Creator of the world, mocked and crowned with thorns! The Puritan hymn writer Joseph Hart described it so well.

See how patient Jesus stands,
Insulted in His lowest case!
Sinners have bound the Almighty hands,
And spit in their Creator's face.

With thorns His temple gored and gashed,
Send streams of blood from every part;
His back's with knotted scourges lashed,
But sharper scourges tear His heart.
   ("His Passion" by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768, Number 274 in
      Spurgeon's "Our Own Hymn Book," Pilgrim, second edition, 2002).

This crown of thorns is a picture of at least three things.

I. First, the crown of thorns points to the curse of sin.

When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, God put a curse on the earth. God said,

"Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee…" (Genesis 3:17-18).

Thorns and thistles were part of the curse that came to the world because of Adam's sin.

Then Jesus came and bore the curse for us. Matthew Henry said,

How admirably the satisfaction our Lord Jesus made by his death and sufferings answered to the sentence here passed upon our first parents…Did the curse come in with sin? Christ was made a curse for us, died a cursed death, Galatians 3:13. Did thorns come in with sin? He was crowned with thorns for us…Did death come in with sin? He became obedient unto death (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson, 1996, volume I, p. 27).

Adam brought the curse of God down on mankind by his sin. Christ removed the curse by His obedience unto death on the Cross.

"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous"
   (Romans 5:19).

The crown of thorns that Jesus wore to the Cross pictures the curse, the thorns and thistles of Adam.

"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3:13).

The curse was great - so great that it changed the very course of nature. But the cure is even greater. Christ bore that curse in His suffering and death. To free all those who trust in Him, He offers the only cure for this curse.

"He was wounded for our transgressions…and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).

This is shown to us in the crown of thorns He wore.

II. Second, the crown of thorns points to man's depravity.

Please turn in your Bible to Isaiah, chapter one, verse five. Let us stand and read verses five and six. Here is a clear description of the total depravity of mankind.

"Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment" (Isaiah 1:5-6).

You may be seated.

This is a description of mankind in sin. Christ came to save us from our own inherently fallen natures. Since our "whole head is sick," He must wear a crown of thorns on His head, to heal our sinful minds. Since our "whole heart" is faint, He must take the point of a spear in His heart, to convert our sinful hearts. Since there is no soundness "from the sole of the foot," His feet must be pierced with nails to redeem us from total depravity.

Spurgeon tells us how the crown of thorns showed the inbred depravity of the soldiers who crowned Him with it.

Nor was this merely mockery, but cruelty added pain to insult. If they had only intended to mock him they might have platted a crown of straw, but they meant to pain him, and therefore they fashioned a crown of thorns. Look ye, I pray you, at his person as he suffers under their hands. They had scourged him till probably there was no part of his body which was not bleeding beneath their blows except his head, and now that head must be made to suffer too. Alas, our whole head was sick, and our whole heart faint, and so he must be made in his chastisement like to us in our transgression. There was no part of our humanity without sin, and there must be no part of his humanity without suffering. If we had escaped in some measure from iniquity, so might he have escaped from pain, but as we had worn the foul garment of transgression, and it covered us from head to foot, even so must he wear the garments of shame and derision from the crown of his head even to the sole of his foot (C. H. Spurgeon, "The Crown of Thorns," The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim, 1971, volume XX, p. 220).

Christ suffered, Bled and died to save you from the corruption and ruin of your own nature. If you come to Jesus, He will save your soul and give you everlasting life. The Bible says,

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" (John 3:36).

III. Third, the crown of thorns points to His Crown in glory.

The Apostle John said,

"I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown…" (Revelation 14:14).

This is Christ - enthroned in glory - coming in Judgment. This is Christ - seated now at the right hand of the Father, in Heaven. The crown of thorns is gone. It has been replaced with a crown of gold! When Christ returns, the Bible tells us that many crowns will replace that ignominious, bloody crown of thorns.

"On his head were many crowns" (Revelation 19:12).

Crown Him with many crowns!
      Behold His hands and side,
Rich wounds, yet visible above,
      In beauty glorified:
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
      For Thou hast died for me!
Thy praise shall never, never fail
      Throughout eternity.
("Crown Him With Many Crowns" by Matthew Bridges, 1800-1894
      and Godfrey Thring, 1823-1903).

O that with yonder sacred throng
      We at His feet may fall!
We'll join the everlasting song,
      And crown Him Lord of all;
We'll join the everlasting song,
      And crown Him Lord of all!
("All Hail the Power" by Edward Perronet, 1726-1792;
      altered by John Rippon, 1751-1836).

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour …"
   (Hebrews 2:9).

Tonight, look up to Him by faith! He who wore a crown of thorns and died on the Cross to save you. He is now at the right hand of God in Heaven - crowned with glory and honor! Look to Him! Trust Him! Believe on Him! He is mighty to save! And He can save you now!


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 27:27-31.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"A Crown of Thorns" (by Ira Stanphill, 1952).

THE OUTLINE OF

CHRIST'S CROWN OF THORNS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"And when they had platted [woven] a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed [a hollow stem that grew by the rivers, a few feet in length] in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head" (Matthew 27:29-30).

I.   The crown of thorns points to the curse of sin, Genesis 3:17-18;
Romans 5:19; Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 53:5.

II.  The crown of thorns points to man's depravity, Isaiah 1:5-6;
John 3:36.

III. The crown of thorns points to His Crown in glory,
Revelation 14:14; 19:12; Hebrews 2:9.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."