Tuesday, 2 April 2019

The Cruelest Crown

April 2019

Capernwray Hall lies a few miles to the south of us.  For most of the year, it is home to up to 180 young adults who come from many different countries of the world to study the Bible in order to better know the God who is their Creator and who, in Christ, gave his life for them.  At other times the Hall is a centre for Christian holidays.  Derek Burnside, Principal of the Bible School, has kindly allowed what follows to be taken from a recent letter of his.


Graham Burrows

In a sick, twisted way, it was a stroke of genius.  Bored troops, away from home, have the chance to have a little ‘fun’ before the prisoner in their charge is sent to his death.  And one of them has the great idea of crafting a crown of thorns, the ideal combination of pain and mockery to torture the one accused of claiming to be a king.  Some soldier's God-given creativity is twisted and abused to wound the creator himself.

It was the perfect symbol for that moment, one that that went far beyond those soldiers’ casual cruelty.  The righteous Son of God has thorns crushed onto his brow, thorns that exist only because of human rebellion (Genesis 3:18).  He wears our sin, carries our curse. But those very thorns are twisted into a crown, in anticipation of the King of kings’ coming victory over sin and death.  The problem and the solution to human sin are woven into one vicious, glorious piece of headwear just as sin shows its starkest self.

Victorious athletes and festival celebrants would have worn headgear of similar style, adding further layers to this divine imagery.  The King of grace willingly submits to his own creatures’ brutality, and then rises to reign victorious over sin and death, carrying us in his wake, rejoicing.

Behold the man upon a cross, my sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life – I know that it is finished. 

Derek Burnside