Before we get to this matter of thorns, let us review a bit about Jesus. We might be reminded that at Epiphany we celebrated the visit of the Magi or wisemen from the east who followed the star of Christmas to present gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, reminding us that Jesus is our prophet, priest and king. As our prophet, even as the greatest prophet, and still even greater, as God Himself, Jesus foretold of these events that were taking place, these events of His suffering and death.
Jesus prophesied and proclaimed that He and He alone is the way, the truth and the life. Salvation can come from noone else except through Him. And the greatest gift and blessing is that He gives us this salvation. He makes salvation ours simply and purely by grace, that is by His undeserved love and gift for us which He gives through faith which is the instrument which takes hold of and makes all His gifts ours, which He also gives to us and to all people. That these events of His suffering and death are taking place should have come as no surprise to His disciples as He spoke of and proclaimed these events many times.
Jesus is the greatest prophet and He is also the greatest even our own High Priest. As our High Priest, having ascended to the place from where He descended, today He is seated at the right hand of the Father where He is interceding for all people and in particular, for us. One of the roles of the priest was to make intercession and rest assured, Jesus is making intercession for us.
Another role of the priest in general and the high priest in particular was to offer sacrifices. The person, or family would bring their sacrifice. The priest would offer it as a burnt offering. Some of the offering was consumed completely as it was offered completely to God. Another part was kept for the priest and sometimes his family to consume and another part was kept and consumed by the person or family offering the sacrifice. In this manner the family also participated in the sacrifice. As for Jesus, as our great High Priest, He offered Himself as a sacrifice for us on the cross. And as we have said time and again, He has given us His Holy Supper where in we eat His body and drink His blood and thus participate as a remembrance of His suffering, death and resurrection.
And now, Jesus as our true King. A king is the ultimate authority in the land. A just and righteous king rules in a just and fair manner, watching over and caring for the citizens of His land. In like manner, Jesus, having ascended into heaven now sits at the right hand of the Father where He in righteousness and purity forever, rules over us, watches over us and cares for us. Ultimately, after we have passed on from this world, or our Lord has chosen to return to take us to be with Himself, He will rule in heaven for eternity. We long for and eagerly await that glorious day.
While on this earth, Jesus suffered mocking and especially He suffered mocking as king. Because of the lack of faith of those who persecuted Jesus, they took some thorn vines, perhaps a vine with thorns an inch or so long and wove a crown of those thorns. Then taking the crown they shoved it onto Jesus head making sure the thrones penetrated through the skin in order to bring pain, suffering and blood, and in a mocking jester of His royalty. Along with putting a royal purple robe on Him, and putting a rod or stick as a scepter they then bowed before Him in another mocking jester.
What does this mean? Although Jesus was born in obscurity and never owned anything, except perhaps the clothes on His back. Although Jesus cared for people, calming storms, forgiving sins, healing, raising from the dead, casting out demons and the like, although He proclaimed good news to those who were held captive by sin and suffering in this world, and although His proclamation was always a proclamation of grace, yet He suffered for His words. He suffered for being one of us. He suffered because of us. Jesus was born and lived perfectly. Jesus fulfilled all God’s laws and promises, prophesies, perfectly for us, because we cannot.
The reason Jesus suffered for us, was because, although He was perfect, although He knew no sin, He elected, He voluntarily, of His own free will and according to His active obedience, took our sins upon Himself. What was ours, our sin, became His and by faith in Him, what was His, perfection has become ours.
Jesus suffered for our sins, on our behalf. He suffered even as our King, being crowned with a crown of thorns, a mocking jester, but one which indeed showed the depths of His love and suffering for each one of us. Jesus suffered what we should have suffered, eternal spiritual death, hell so that we will not have to suffer such a fate, but instead we will be given what is rightfully His, heaven.
Because Jesus suffered, taking the punishment for our sins, we will not have to suffer eternal spiritual death. Yes, we may pass on from this world. We may suffer a physical death, we may pass on from this world, but we need never fear death, eternal spiritual death, because Jesus has paid that price for us.
Not only has Jesus suffered eternal spiritual death for us, He has also suffered much of our temporal punishment. In other words, yes there may be times that we might suffer the consequences of our actions, but many times Jesus has already suffered those consequences for us.
The bottom line for us Christians, if you will, is that Jesus paid the complete price for all sin, of all time, of all places, and He gives us His righteousness. Certainly for Jesus it is not a fair deal, but for us it is an extraordinary deal.
Today is the day we call and celebrate as Good Friday. It is Good Friday. This day is the day we remember our part in the events of the day, that is that it is because of our sin that this day had to happen. We might also recall that even before He began creating the world, God knew this day would come. God knew that Adam and Eve would sin. God knew that the world would be cursed. God knew that He would have to reconcile and make satisfaction for His world and His creatures, you and me. And yet, He created this world anyway. God created this world and us in order to love us and that is what He does. Just as parents do not have children so their children will serve them, neither did God create us because He needed something from us. As a matter of fact, God knows that we cannot work our way up to Him, that is why He came down, descended to us, taking on human flesh and blood.
All of human history points to this day and time, to Jesus, God in flesh, making atonement for His creation. Today is the day we celebrate the defeat of Satan, the overthrow of sin, our forgiveness and eternal life. All because of our great God who created us to love us, who loves us and who does everything He does for us. So, today we give thanks and we say, to God be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.