Can you imagine a floral department of a local store offering a bouquet of thorns? How much business would a nursery that specialized in brambles and thistles have? Except for a few botanist, everybody hates thorns, briers and all their prickly relatives. They are not beautiful and they are useful – unless encumbering your way and inflicting pain is a valuable art. Nevertheless, God wove even the harshest of elements into His beautiful plan of redemption through Christ.
1. THORNS WERE A CONSEQUENCE OF ADAM AND EVE’S SIN
a. God cursed the object of man’s labor and made it reluctantly, yet richly, yield his food through hard work (Genesis 3:18).
b. Paul will say the creation was “subjected to futility” because of humanity’s sin. Along with humans, the creation also is waiting to be freed from the consequences of sin (Romans 8:20-24).
2. THORNS ARE REPEATEDLY CITED AS A HARDSHIP OF SIN
a. Numbers 33:55 – If the Israelites didn’t drive out the Canaanites then they would be “barbs in your eyes and thorns in your flesh.”
b. Isaiah 5:6; 55:13 – Because of Israel’s sin, God would make them “a waste…” full of “briers and thorns.” But later one will come who will reverse the curse “Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle.”
c. Job 31:40 – If Job wasn’t telling the truth he called for the Adamic curse to be upon his land.
d. Proverbs 22:5 – The way of the wicked is impeded by “thorns and briers.”
e. Matthew 13:7, 22 – In the Parable of the Sower, thorns grow up and choke out the word.
f. 2 Corinthians 12:7 – Paul takes thorn imagery and turns it on its head. Rather than being as a result of sin, his “thorn in the flesh” because a preventative of sin. So how could this be the case for him? Because…
3. JESUS WORE ON HIS BROW THE CONSEQUENCE OF OUR SINS
a. Roman soldiers mock Jesus and His claim to be the King of the Jews by dressing Him in purple, putting a reed in His hand, and a crown of thorns on His head (Matthew 27:27-31).
b. In the suffering servant passage, Isaiah says he “had borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace” (Isaiah 53:4-5).
c. Note that the robe and reed were removed, but the Lord wore the crown of thorns to the cross. He bore the consequences of our sins on His brow and brought us peace.
Throughout the Bible, thorns carry a negative connotation. Thorns are the fruit of our sin – spiny, prickly, cutting thorns. Yet God the Father had a different plan. Through Christ, thorns take on a whole new meaning because they focus our thoughts on God’s plan of redemption, working out through the centuries. This is why Paul could say his “thorn in the flesh” kept him from sinning. While Adam’s sin disrupted the beauty of God’s creation with thorns, the Son of God came to earth to set things right, which brings beauty even to thorns.
1. How are thorns an appropriate symbol for the consequences of sin?
2. What “thorns” have you experienced in your life as a consequence of sin? Explain.
3. Read Matthew 27:27-31 again. What were the soldiers hoping to accomplish with their actions?
4. Picture Jesus wearing the crown of thorns, describe how you feel knowing that sinless Jesus was willing to wear a crown of thorns for your sins?
5. In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul reverses thorn imagery from being a consequence of sin to being a preventative for further sin. With this idea in mind, in what way(s) does seeing Jesus wear the crown of thorns encourage you to draw closer to Him and flee from sin?