The Crown of Thorns

David Bast

READ : John 19:1-3

Hail, King of the Jews! (v. 3)

Pilate’s soldiers decided to make fun of Jesus before carrying out his execution. Pleasure before business, you see. So somebody stuck a clump of sharp thorns on his head, as a sort of crown, and to suggest an emperor’s royal robe they draped a piece of purple cloth over his bleeding shoulders. Then they shouted in mock homage: “Hail, King of the Jews.” Ha, ha. Very funny.

Apparently these men had gotten wind of the charge against Jesus. They didn’t know quite what it was all about—something to do with Jesus claiming to be a king or have a kingdom. The particulars didn’t really matter. The soldiers got enough of it to form the basis of their joke. It was typical soldiers’ humor, cops’ humor; the laughter of hardened people against a defenseless victim.

It makes me want to pause whenever I might be tempted to mock or taunt or bully someone. Whose side do I want to be on—the soldiers’, or Jesus’?

But most of all, it moves me to awe at the majestic self-restraint of Jesus. The soldiers spoke truer than they knew. Jesus was the King. He had only to say the word; he would be vindicated, they would be obliterated. But he didn’t say the word. Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame.” Why? “For the joy that was set before him” (Heb. 12:2)—the joy that would come from saving us.


Jesus, thank you for your endurance. Help me to take your patience as a model.