One Easter morning, several Seasons ago, I was removing the Crown of thorns from the cross outside my house, and the black drape that had displayed the reminder of His death for two days. I then placed the white flower wreath around the head of the cross and draped the arms in white. As I laid the pieces on the ground, I began to wonder whatever happened to Jesus’ actual crown of thorns. I recently saw on the news, during the tragic fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, that there was a relic housed there that is said to be that crown of thorns.
Thorns have been with us since the fall of Creation. The Scriptures tell us this in Genesis:
The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.(Genesis 3:17-18 HCSB)
Thorns are a result of the fall of man. My Pastor recently said that they represent sin, and as you study them in the Bible, that sure makes sense. They show up in many ways. In three instances in Scripture, they are used as a metaphor for the people the Israelites did not drive out from the land. God says that these people would be thorns in their eyes and in their sides, and that their false gods would be a trap and snare to them. (Num. 33:55, Joshua 23:13, Judges 2:3) In this instance they are the result of disobedience in following God’s command. In the book of Judges, they are used as an instrument of punishment (Judges 8:4-17). People are said to be entangled in them; they are what overgrows everything when not tended to. They are mentioned often as what is gathered and burned.
Most famously we have the New Testament references of the Crown of thorns Jesus wore, and the thorn in the flesh spoken of by the Apostle Paul.
As I stood there pondering the question of Christ’s Crown of Thorns, God began to weave together for me the picture of each of us carrying a thorn in our flesh from Jesus’ crown.
As Paul spoke of these thorns in the flesh, he said this:
Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. 8 Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. 9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.(2 Corinthians 12:7-9 HCSB)
This picture of a thorn from Jesus’ Crown being given to each of us to carry, as a thorn in our flesh, has blessed me many times in my own personal struggles. Paul said the thorn was given to him to keep him from exalting himself. Even so, I believe our thorns keep us from this same snare. The thorn I asked to have removed early in life was social anxiety disorder. Instead of removing it, God is always placing me in situations, where I am used to speak, teach, share, or sing publicly. Each time, I do it afraid, leaning on Him for the ability and stability to bring Him glory. Writing is so much easier because I can hide behind this computer alone, typing away. I pray that the Lord will bless you with that picture as you struggle with your own thorns in the flesh. Picturing it as one of the precious thorns that pierced our Savior’s brow, and is tipped with His blood, may just make it feel more like a privilege than a burden.