I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1

Crowned with Sin: Thorn-covered Ground; Thorn-covered Head

Midweek Lent 3 – Pr. Anderson sermon
Genesis 3:17-18; St. John 19:1-6 “Crowned with Sin: Thorn-covered ground; Thorn-covered head”
March 6, 2024 | Christ Lutheran Church

In Nomine Iesu
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O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down. Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown. O sacred head, what glory, what bliss, till now was Thine; yet though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine. And when I am departing, O part not Thou from me; when moral pangs are darting, come, Lord, and set me free: And when my heart must languish amidst the final throe, release me from mine anguish by Thine own pain and woe. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Hymnody #334 v. 1 & 9)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)

Moving to Oregon, Taylor and I were introduced to a new plant. The name of the weed is called Puncturevine. It is known around here by the name of goathead. In the definition for this weed, it says that it “produces many burs with sharp spines that can injure humans and animals, as well puncture bicycle tires” (ipm.ucanr.edu). This is an understatement! After rolling up the weeds and bagging them from the front yard to be taken, the plant left thousands of dried burs and these burs end up stuck to our shoes and brought into the house. When they end up in the house, I’d rather step on a Lego than have one of these stuck in my toe! Now these little goatheads are nothing compared to the crown the Son of God wore. The goatheads are a reminder of Adam’s curse, but the crown of thorns was worth more. Here is the visual reminder of the curse, Jesus was crowned with sin, the sin of the entire world.

The crown that Jesus wore had to grow up from the ground. After the fall of the very good, perfect world, the beauty was marred. With sin brought into the world, God reveals to the fallen man what life would be like from here on out. And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. This hits the home he had because before Adam was given leadership over creation, everything was good.

This is how in-depth Adam’s job was when he was created. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it…. Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field” (Genesis 2:15, 19-20a). He was intelligent, and was put in the garden to work and keep it. He did this job with no pain and joy. It only took one slip up, one moment of weakness to want more wisdom. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6). With that one bite, creation turned on him. The land will no longer give up its food so easily.

As sons of Adam, we have inherited this ground. It is not too hard to see that. Even with modern technology, with tractors that can keep themselves straight and computer programs that place the seed into the ground, the farmer still has to go out and spray weed killer. This has to be done every single year and it needs to be done by getting up and heading out into the field. Working in the field is not the only job that is strenuous. There are many jobs that are hard work, they have their own thistles and goatheads that poke and prod. We love to complain about the problems. We will try very hard to change how the job is done to avoid the problems, but those problems are still there. We might be wondering why should we be punished for what Adam and Eve did? It has been thousands of years and we are told to not hold a grudge. These thistles and thorns are now a necessity. They are a reminder that we are not perfect, that we are sinners, and it reminds us about who we go to find refuge from these thorns of the ground.

There really is no benefit from the thorns of the ground, unless you are going to use them as a tool for torture. Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” It is one thing to step on a goathead, it is another to have a thorn wrapped into the shape of a crown and have it jammed into your head. Good Friday is now well underway. Pilate admits at the end of this torture that he finds “no guilt in him.” No guilt, as He is beaten, mocked, struck by human hands and flogged.

This flogging is not something to be looked at lightly. The Romans knew how to torture. This was a whipping that would have torn the flesh down to muscle and bone. Many died after experiencing this part. Not one complaint was found in Jesus’ mouth. Talk about Adam’s redemption at hand. The world needed a Savior, and that Savior did the unthinkable. He had the sin of the world placed on His shoulders. On His shoulders, sits His thorn-covered head. As Pilate said, it was a head with no guilt, yet it was a head crowned with sin, our sin.

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” There He stands in front of the crowd. Most likely He cannot be recognized anymore because of the beating and the flogging. Pilate gives one more attempt to stop the crowd. “Behold the man!” Does this man look at all like a king? He is draped in purple robes and His crown is that of thorns. What a pathetic king! This blood that Jesus shed was not enough. The religious leaders wanted it all to spill. They cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” The king needs to die! And this is in fact true, the king needs to die for me, and He needs to die for you.

He needs to die for you because the pain that you know now is nothing compared to what is to come. These thorns and thistles do not compare to the unquenchable, eternal fire that is at hand for all who don’t believe. Jesus knows that most times you can’t bear the pains and trials of this world. So, the thorns of the earth, that reminder of the very first sin, are formed into a crown and put on His head. They crowned Him with sin. Since He is true God, He carries that crown of sin, the weight on His shoulders to the cross. The leaders get their wish, and in His crucifixion, you get your relief from the thorns. Your sins that condemn you to the fires of hell are taken away by the blood flowing from this beaten, flogged, and destroyed body of a man. The thorn-covered head crowned with sin, bows His head and dies. The world is redeemed.

This redemption for the world can only be found in the thorn-covered head, crowned with sin. The world will search for ways to get past and to destroy the thorns. It would be so nice to be able to live our lives with no suffering and to not have to put in work to make a living. No one wants to sweat, be poked, and prodded, until the end of their days. There is no work around. Until the end of this world, the world has to continue to deal with the thorns and the thistles that grow from the ground. To find relief from the pain of the thorn-covered ground, we look to the thorn-covered head that bowed down in death on the cross. It is that head crowned with sin that washes the pain away. It is this death that points to what is coming because that head is crowned to rule over all the living. Man is redeemed and there is life in the world to come. Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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