The Crown of Thorns

Bible Book: Matthew  27 : 11-28
Subject: Cross, The; Thorns, The Crown of; Crucifixion; Easter

Saturday, March 19, 1988 was one of the most horrific days in this land of ours. On that day the funeral of Kevin Brady, who was killed at Milltown Cemetery on the 16th of March was taking place. It was during that funeral that a car approached the procession at high speed. It was claimed by some present that they feared another attack by loyalist gunmen. The car’s passage was blocked and a group of mourners attacked the two passengers. The two men in the car were later identified as Corporals Derek Wood and David Howes of the British army. One of the soldiers fired a warning shot but both were beaten and overpowered. The two soldiers were driven to waste ground and shot dead. Part of this incident was recorded on Television News Cameras making all decent loving people sick with revulsion that such a deed should be perpetrated in this province. What a display that was of unbelievable human depravity!

Yet that scene terrible and horrific though it was, is nothing compared to this scene. Christ was being tried because the Jewish leaders wanted Him dead. The third phase of the Jewish trial was coming to a close. The Lord Jesus had stood before Annas, Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin during the middle of the night and was before them once more in the morning so they could ratify what they did illegally during the night. For according to Jewish law it was illegal to try a man at night. Now in order to get rid of Christ the Jewish leaders needed to get the Romans involved. You see, under Roman occupation the Jews did not have the right of execution. So around dawn 5.00am the Lord Jesus was led to Pilate’s judgment hall probably located in the Fortress of Antonia, which was north of the Temple ground. The Jews desperately wanted the Savior’s blood, and nothing Pilate did could change that. Pilate was in a panic. He did not want to violate justice, but he also didn’t want to start a riot. And so he asked the question of the ages, “what shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ ?” (27:22) and back came the awful response, “let him be crucified.”

Can you see the Savior now as they scourge Him? My …. this was not the Jewish scourging of 39 stripes, 13 on each shoulder and 13 on the loins. Rather it was known as the Roman half-way death. It was administered by a man who was trained to so, a lictor and he used an instrument called a cat of nine tails. It was a wooden handle and it had strips of leather on it and tied to the end were chunks of bone, rock, and steel. Can you imagine how it was for the Lord Jesus? As they stripped Him, tied Him to pillar or post so that the skin on the back of the Lord Jesus was very, very tight. Can you see that lictor taking that cat of nine tails? Can you hear the whistling of the leather as it moves toward the back of the Savior? Flesh would be ripped from His bones. Veins and arteries would be exposed. Can you see the Savior now? Bleeding and bruised, taken to the common hall and the whole band was gathered around Him. Six hundred soldiers are there to have a go at the Savior and play the Kings game with Him. And it’s here at Gabbatha the place of the pavement that they pressed that crown of thorns upon His head. I want to talk to you this …. about “The Crown of Thorns.”


Do you see what Matthew says? “And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head.”

( 27:29) How cruelly was the Lord Jesus handled by the soldiers! What need was there, on top of crucifying Him to dress Him in a mocking robe? What need was there, on top of crucifying Him to crush thorns on His precious head? Was it not enough to have the nails invade His body pinning Him as an insect to a tree? My …. when I think of the crown of thorns I think of (1) for there was,


For the text tells us that the soldiers “plaited a crown of thorns.” (27:29) That is, they braided long vines of thorns together to form a crown. Now there are two types of thorn plants that grow around Israel. One is called the Ziyphus Spina Christi and the other is called the qundaul. Both have long flexible twigs that can be woven into crowns, though the qundaul has the harshest thorns of the two. Most scholars believe that the qundaul plant was used, with its spikes of 1 to 1 and a half inches long. The Roman soldiers had to weave this common plant very carefully, for if they were careless, they would be wounded just as easily as they wounded the Lord Jesus. My …. such a undertaking to braid the qundaul, was risky business, and was certainly work and not pleasure. Can you see those cruel soldiers as they cut the long supple twigs and begin weaving them? Can you see them as they weave, and accidentally prick themselves cursing God and continuing with the weaving?

Have you ever had your finger pricked? One of the things that happens so often when you go to the doctor is that they will prick your finger! You know how painful that is. Or maybe you have reached for a rose on a bush and when you have got the rose you also got the thorn. Every time you feel the prick of a thorn I want you to think about the agony and suffering that Christ endured on the cross as they crushed that crown of thorns on the brow of the Lord Jesus! My …. as you stand back and consider this cruel deed, I want to ask you what drives you to plat a crown of excuses for rejecting the Savior?

What excuse has Satan weaved for you in your mind? What reason has been platted by hell for you rejecting Christ? Has Satan whispered in your ear, “You’ll have to give up your pleasure if you are going to trust Christ.” “You’ll have to go straight if you’re going to become a Christian.” Maybe tonight the Devil is weaving for you the thorns of procrastination. He’s whispering, “Alright get saved, but not tonight.” There was a large group of people gathered. On one side of the group stood Christ. On the other side of the group stood Satan. Separating them, running through the group was a fence. The scene was set and both Christ and Satan began calling to the people in the group and one by one each having made up his or her mind went to either Christ or Satan. This kept going for a while and soon enough both Christ and Satan had a group of people around them. But one man joined neither group. He climbed the fence that was there and sat on it. Then the Lord Jesus and His group left and disappeared, so too did Satan and his group.

The man on the fence sat alone. As this man sat there, Satan came back looking for something he appeared to have lost. The man said, “have you lost something?” Satan looked straight at him and replied, “No, there you are come with me.” “But,” said the man “I sat on the fence I chose neither you nor Christ.” “That’s okay,” said Satan, “I own the fence.” My …. you cannot watch this scene being enacted this …. and not take sides! Are you with those who platted this crown? Are you still with those who injure the Savior by turning your back on Him? (a)


Do you see what Matthew says? “And when they had plaited a crown of thorns …. King of the Jews.”

(27:29) You see, this crown of thorns represents a mock coronation. I’m sure the word had gotten round among the soldiers that the Lord Jesus had claimed to be King and His followers were worshipping Him as a King.

“Oh, He is a King is He?” Maybe they got their idea for this crown of thorns from the circlet they found on Roman coins depicting the crown of Tiberius Caesar.

“If He is a King He is to have a robe.” So they, get an old worn-out soldiers robe of purple and throw it around the Savior after His scourging. “Oh, if He is a King He has to have a crown.” So they take the crown of thorns and crush it on the brow of Jesus. Then they put a reed in His hands and they would mock Him. They spat on Him and smote Him on the head. The tense is they kept on beating Him with it. The soldiers passed the reed around and each man had a turn beating the Savior. Isn’t this an awful scene? Does this not move your heart?

I recall the first time I went into the grounds of Fort Antonia in Jerusalem, I stood there at Gabbatha, for the pavement is still here. On it you can see the markings of the games the Roman soldiers played. You see, these soldiers picked on prisoners or mentally retarded children as way to pass the time. They would dress them in certain ways and then mock them. My …. do you see what they did to Christ? They played with Him the Kings game and treated Him with contempt. Is that what you are doing with the Savior? As Christ calls out to you offering His pardon, peace, power? Are you responding with contempt? Have you even got so low as to mock the Son of God, the Word of God, the Cause of God? When D.L. Moody was conducting evangelistic meetings across the country, he frequently faced hecklers who were in rather violent disagreement with what he preached. In the final service of one campaign an usher handed the famed evangelist a noted as he entered the building. Supposing it to be an announcement, Moody settled the large audience and prepared to read the notice.

He opened it to find one single word. “Fool.” The colourful preacher said, “This is most unusual. I have just been handed a message which just consists of one word, fool. I have often heard of those who have written letters and have forgot to sign their names, but this is the first time I have ever heard of anyone who has ever signed his name and forgot to write the letter.” Taking advantage of the situation Moody changed his message to the text, “the fool hath said in his heart there is no God.” (Ps 14:1) My …. are you a fool this …. who is mocking the Savior? Mocking Him by using His name in profanity! By despising His person? By rejecting His work? In God’s estimate this …. are you the fool? (1)


For this crown of thorns that the Savior wore proclaims a message! It reveals,


Do you know what mans problem is this ….? Do you know what your problem is? Sin! Sin defiles, degrades, destroys, sin will damn your soul in hell! Now think of

1. Creation BEFORE Sin Entered:

Can you imagine a world where there was no crime, no pain, no suffering? Can you imagine a place where there was no war, only peace a place where was heaven on earth, that was Eden. There was not one thorn on one rush bush in Eden’s garden. Not one thorn to be found anywhere. Thorns were not with creation in its beginning. But then think of,

2. Creation WHEN Sin Entered:

You know what happened don’t you? Man disobeyed God and tumbled to His fallen condition. The Bible says,

“Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin ….,” (Rom 5:12) When Adam and Eve disobeyed God pronounced judgement. “And unto Adam he said, because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee saying, Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.” (Gen 3:17-18) My …. we have carried creation along with us in sin. Do you see that one of the results of sin in the world is thorns and thistles? Every time you feel the prick of the thorn it’s a sermon to you that you are a sinner and that you need Jesus Christ as your Savior. Are you sitting there thinking like Pilate, “Well this has nothing to do with me. I was not in the Garden. I did not commit that first terrible sin. I live a good life. I am a good person, a moral person. What have I to do with any of this?”

The fact is, you have everything to do with it. The reality is that you are the offspring of Adam, that first sinner, and you, yourself are a sinner. My …. the Bible says, “There is none that doeth good, no not one.” (Rom 3:12) Do you realize that? Do you recognize that all your hand washing and good works will do nothing to give you peace in this life, much less entrance into heaven. But that crown of thorns gives us hope for it not only reveals the problem of man, but,


The cross of the Lord Jesus. For when Christ died on the cross He was made a curse for you and me. Paul says,

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree.” (Gal 3:13) My …. when that crown of thorns was crushed down on the head of the Lord Jesus Christ it means that He was bearing our curse. Its God’s provision. it’s the only way that sin can be dealt with. You have to come to the cross. Its at the cross where the crown of thorns was upon the brow of Christ and the blood of our Lord poured down His body. Its at the cross where the blood of Christ was shed for your sins and mine.

“Upon His head a crown of thorns

Upon His heart my shame

For me He prayed for me He died

And dying spoke my name.”

You say “Preacher, my sin is great.” Well, the blood of Jesus Christ is greater. “Preacher my sin is deep.” The blood of Jesus is deeper. “Preacher my sin is far.” The blood of Jesus Christ is farther. “My sin is deeply stained.” The blood of Jesus removes the stain of sin. My …. I have good news for you this ….! “The blood of Jesus …. all sin.” (1 Jn 1:7) Are the thorns of your sin pricking you? Do you know something about the pain, the heartache, the poison of sin? I tell you the thorns of you sin can be removed if you come to the cross.


For when “Jesus came forth wearing the crown of thorns …. Pilate saith unto them, behold the man.”

( Jn 19:5) Oh, what a man He was. Not just an ordinary man was this Christ. He was God come in flesh. He was the perfect man. He was a man who was the express image of the Father’s person, the brightness of the Father’s glory. But not only a man for Pilate said to the Jews, “Behold your King.” (Jn 19:14) He is a man who is a King. Have you ever noticed that there are some people who are so attractive that whatever they wear looks good on them? The same thing is true about this crown of thorns they placed on Christ. It looks beautiful on Him. For He took that wreath of wickedness and turned it into a crown of conquest.

For He is a King. That’s who Christ is. (Jn 18:37)


Environmentalists, no matter how well-meaning cannot return nature to what it was in Eden, but Christ will. He paid for that right on the cross, took the thorns and bathed them with His blood. He is a King in heaven right now. For “the head that once was crowned ….,” but one of these days the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Rev 11:15) Indeed John who saw Christ with the crown of thorns sees Him in the book of Revelation returning to earth, “and on His head were many crowns.” (19:12) And on that day every knee will bow and “Jesus shall reign ….,”


In any heart that crowns Him as Savior and Lord! Have you done that? Repenting of your sin have you received Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? Is Jesus your King? Can you say, “He is my King of Kings and Lord of Lords?” My …. the dilemma that confronted Pilate then confronts you now. “What shall you do then with Jesus which is called Christ ?”

(27:22) My …. have you seen what Christ did for you? He wore a crown of thorns that you might wear a crown of life. He tasted the pangs of hell that you might enjoy the pleasures of heaven. “What will you do …. Christ?” Christ is not on trial but you art. For what you do with Jesus Christ determines your eternal destiny. What are your options? You can hate Him as the Jewish leaders did. You can reject Him as the fickle crowd did. You can mock Him as Herod did. You can get rid of Him as Pilate did. Whatever you choose will be a choice for eternity. Why not reject all those choices and choose to trust Christ this ….? D.L. Moody the famous American evangelist called it the biggest blunder of his life. It happened on the 8th October 1871 during a gospel campaign in Farwell Hall, Chicago. His text was, “ What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ.” At the conclusion of the message Moody said he would gave the people one week to make up their minds about Christ. He then turned to Ira Sankey for a solo and Sankey sang, “Today the Savior calls.” But by the third verse Sankey’s voice was drowned out by the noise outside the hall. The great Chicago fire had begun and the flames were even then sweeping towards the hall. The clanging of the fire bells and the noise of the engines made it impossible to continue the meeting. In the year that followed Moody wished that he a called for an immediate decision for Christ for many perished.

My …. “What shall you …. ?” The verdict is yours, the time is now. What will you do with Jesus Christ?

“What will you do with Jesus

Neutral you cannot be

Some day your heart will be asking

What will He do with me ?”