Intro: Matt 27:27-29Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. 28 And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” We recognize this scene as the concluding episode of trial of Jesus before Pilate. Immediately following this these soldiers lead Jesus to Calvary, and there they nail Him to a cross. But before the crucifixion there was this dark moment of mockery and blasphemy.
- Our study this month is entitled, the promise of a crown. The scriptural reference is Revelation 2:10, where the Spirit promises a “crown of life” to those who are faithful to Jesus even to the point of death. This is an amazing and thrilling promise that every Christian needs to rest himself upon. But that promise of a crown is based on the redemptive work of Jesus, and what the Bible tells us about His crowns. Let’s begin there…
I. The Crowns of Jesus: It is intriguing to recognize that you and I are not the only ones, or the first ones who were promised a crown in the words of scripture. Jesus, as the Messiah, was also promised to wear a crown. In fact, the reception of His crowns is the story of my redemption. It is only through His crowns that I can receive mine.
A. Our English word crown is derived from the Latin word “corona”, which means a garland. And “corona” is derived from the Greek word KORŌNĒ, which means wreath. This denoted a wreath bestowed on the victor.
1. In the New Testament we find two different Greek words translated crown:
• The first word, DIADAYMA (Dee-ad-ay-mah), is the root of our English word diadem. This is a kingly crown – a crown of authority. In scripture it is only used of Christ (and those who pretend to have His authority.) We will look at its use in just a few moments. (Particularly in Revelation)
• The second word STEPHANOS is the root from which we get the name Stephen. It’s root word means to encircle, surround, or to weave around. STEPHANOS is a victor’s crown. This was the wreath that was placed on the head as a reward for those who have been victorious. The crown was a token of public honor and a symbol of military prowess (Vines). For the competitor it constituted undeniable proof of the victory.
B. The crown of thorns: let me draw your attention again to Matthew 27:29 – When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Interestingly the word there is stephanos – the crown of the victor. But that word does not seem to align what was intended by the mockery of the soldiers. They were making fun of Jesus’ position as the king of the Jews. They were mocking his authority. It might appear that the crown under consideration should have been the diadem of a king. But it was very common for Emperors and Kings to wear the stephanos, victor’s crown when returning from battle or in processions honoring their military victories. Their wreath was made of olive branches or vines. Jesus’ was constructed of thorn bushes.
1. In a great twist of irony, the coronation of the soldiers was reflective of the event. Jesus was preparing to engage the enemy and emerge a great victor. He was truly the King of the Jews; the King of God’s people.
2. This crown may appear to be the on-the-spot creation of some Roman soldiers who got caught up in the moment. But in reality, this crown was promised to Jesus (and us) long ago.
• Zechariah 12:10 – 10 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn
» John 19:37 says this was fulfilled in Jesus’ death.
• Zechariah 13:7 – 7 “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, Against the Man who is My Companion,” says the Lord of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered;…
» Matthew 26:31 says this was fulfilled in Jesus’ death.
• Psalm 35:19 – Let them not rejoice over me who are wrongfully my enemies; Nor let them wink with the eye who hate me without a cause.
» Jesus tells us this was speaking of how His enemies would treat Him. In John 15:24-25 – …but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’
• Isaiah 53:2-3 – 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 5-12 – He was cut off out of the land of the living (v8), his soul was made an offering for sin (v10), he poured out his soul unto death (v12).
» This was fulfilled in Jesus’ death according to Philip’s teaching in Acts 8:32-35; and Jesus own statement in Luke 22:37 – For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.”
3. When the soldiers planted the thorny crown on Jesus’ head it was emblematic of His physical suffering, especially was it unfolds from that point on.
C. The Crown of Victory: It seems clear that Jesus’ crown of thorns was a crown of promise. He saw it coming, and never attempted to avoid it. John 12:27 – “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say?’Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. But it was also in a sense of crown of victory in prospect. Jesus was being mocked, but not defeated. He came to win the victory, and He knew that would come through His suffering.
1. Disillusioned on the road to Emmaus – Jesus opened their eyes; Luke 24:25-27 – Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Lest we still not see the place of the thorns in the victory, notice Heb. 2. Speaking of Jesus, the writer says…
a. Heb 2:7-8 – You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands. 8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”He wants them to see Jesus as one who was crowned (stephanos) with glory and honor by the Father. But how and when did Jesus win this victorious crown?
b. In 9-10 he says it again… But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. He was made lower than angels for the suffering of death 10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Jesus came to suffer and die, so that He might taste of death for every person, and pay the penalty for their sin. In response to this He was “crowned” (stephanos) with glory and honor, and became the captain (originator) of our salvation (made “perfect through suffering”)
c. “See from his head, his hands his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down. Did er’ such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown”
D. The Crown of the King (Authority): As we mentioned earlier there is another Greek word that is translated “crown” in the N.T. – DIADAYMA (Dee-ad-ay-mah) is the crown of regency and position. It is the diadem of the king. Jesus’ crown of thorns was designed to mock through mimicry the crown of a king (“Hail, King of the Jews”). Was Jesus a King?
1. Just a short time before, when Jesus stood in Pilate’s hall, the governor asked Jesus if He was the King of the Jews. Matt 27:11 – 1 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” Jesus made it known to Pilate that His kingdom was not a physical kingdom (not of this world – Jn 18:36), and was not, and would not be promoted through violence or physical power.
2. A generation after Jesus crucifixion and resurrection, the apostle John revealed the visions given to him through the Spirit of God. In his vision, the crown of Jesus was clearly in view. Rev. 19:11-13 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. V. 16 – And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
a. The image of Christ here depicts His absolute authority (to judge and make war; He is the word of God). John uses the alternate term diadema, indicative of Jesus’ power to act. Paul also proclaims that Jesus is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” – 1 Tim. 6:15.
b. But once again we recognize this kingly diadem was a promised crown. The O.T. prophets spoke often of the One who was to come to sit upon the throne of David and rule over Israel (spiritual Israel – God’s faithful people) 2 Sam. 7; Just a few days before Jesus wore his crown of thorns, the people welcomed Him into the Holy city as the “One who was coming in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel” (John 12:13). This event was prefigured in the words of Zechariah, 500 years before Jesus was born. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your king coming unto you; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon a donkey, even upon a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech 9:9).
c. But their welcome soon turned hatred, and this same crowd called for Jesus’ death. “Do you want me to crucify your King”, asked Pilate. “We have no king but Caesar”, was their response.
d. So the King promised to Israel was turned over to the Gentiles to be put to death. And in that tragic moment He was crowned with a circle of thorns. Again this was a crown of promise. Both His suffering and Kingship were settled matters of God’s prophetic voice. In that crown of thorns of derision was pictured a crown of victory, and certainly the crown of authority that belongs only to a king! Phil 2:8-11 – And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
e. “All hail the power of Jesus’ name, let angels prostrate fall! Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of All. Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all.”
Conclusion: John 19:19-22 – Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. 21 Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.”‘” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
Sometimes signs are important. If you do not see them, or ignore them, it can be tragic. This obscure sign written by a murderous Roman governor was not written to convince or evangelize, but ridicule, probably the Jewish leaders. It was the last description you would expect to find on a Roman cross. “If He is king of the Jews, let Him come down from the cross and we will believe on Him.” My faith is founded on the fact that He did not come down. On the third day, He won the victory.
But the text tells us he wrote it in 3 languages. Why? I came across an interesting take on that question:
- Hebrew. The language of O.T. Scripture. The language of the Jewish elite, the priests, the scribes & the rabbis. The language of Moses & the prophets, of David & Solomon & all the kings of Judah & Israel. Wherever the OT Scriptures are read & discussed, by the grace of God, may all who read come to know JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
- Greek. The language of culture & commerce, of art & science. The language of philosophers, orators & poets of Athens & Sparta & Corinth. The common language of the vast majority of the people throughout the world in the 1st century AD. About 250 years before the birth of Jesus, the Hebrew Scriptures had been translated into Greek & had become reading material for many Gentiles as well as for Jews who grew up in predominately Gentile neighborhoods & who did not have the privilege of attending rabbinical schools & learning the ancient Hebrew language. This Greek was the language in which all the N.T. narratives & epistles would be written within the next 50 years or so after the death of Christ. Throughout the 1st century world & wherever the N.T. Scriptures are read & discussed, may all, by the grace of God, come to know JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
- Latin. The official lang. of the Roman govt. The language of power & conquest, of civil law, of the Caesars. The language of kings. Wherever Rome’s influence is spread & its conquests are considered, wherever its power is recognized & its Emperors are emphasized, by the grace of God, may all come to know JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Today, the message of sign that was nailed to Jesus’ cross has been translated into hundreds of languages & preached in every nation under heaven. The message is the same. Jesus has been crowned King.
Do you believe that Jesus is the King? Will you obey Him?