They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.
I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
I am reflecting on Jesus’ crown today. Here on earth, the only crown we graced his head with was a crown of thorns. It was our human way of mocking him, of belittling him, either because we didn’t understand that he was the King of all Kings and the Lord of all Lords, or because we wanted no authority but our own. He was our God in the flesh who had come to save our sorry souls. On the one hand I am appalled for all humanity that we treated him with such demeaning hostility. (And before we allow the thoughts that say, “I wasn’t there; I wouldn’t have done that to him,” get too far into our consciousness, let us remember that when we turn away from Jesus in our sins today we are essentially belittling and devaluing his sacrifice on the cross for us.) It wasn’t enough to simply have him executed. We had to spit on him, mock him, dole out extra cruelty, dehumanize, and de-divinitize the God of creation (as though we could). If worship is showing God how much we ultimately value God’s being, the process of torture Jesus went through is the opposite of worship, symbolized by our placement of a crown of thorns on his head.
On the other hand I am struck by the great dignity with which Jesus bore the hatred we spewed upon him! Before Pilate, he did not defend himself. There are no records of him crying out for mercy under excruciating pain. There is strength, resolve, divine power in his endurance of a horrific death, and there is integrity of purpose in it all, signified by some of his last words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”
This talk of crowns reminds me of a great Easter hymn, “Crown Him With Many Crowns” by Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring. The first verse is my favorite:
Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne,
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King
through all eternity
As we move from opposing Jesus to surrendering our lives to Jesus, our perception of his crown changes. First, we aren’t the ones to put the true crown on his head, only our Father in heaven can do that. Secondly, it is greater than all human crowns, though they be solid gold and filled with great jewels. Revelation 4 reads,”…the twenty four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.’” Third, Jesus’ crown is the crown of a conqueror (Revelation 6:2). All the rebellion and hatred we humans could pour out on him, all that hell and death could do to him could not hold him in the grave. He conquers sin, Hell, and death to make creation whole!
So how will the choices we make today reflect our understanding of the crown Jesus is wearing? Will it be a crown of thorns or the crown fit for our resurrected King? If we find ourselves wearing a crown today, may God give us the grace to throw it down at the feet of the King Jesus!