Scripture tells us Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem. The Gospel of Mark describes this last journey for our Lord as Jesus “being on the way.” He was heading to Jerusalem with purpose, with great determination. Jesus was on a mission and nothing was going to stop him.
When he arrives near the holy city, he is greeted by cheering crowds. They praise him. They submit to him, throwing their cloaks in the path before him. They applaud him because of his miracles and his powerful teachings. They want to crown him their king. They’ve been praying for this King for generations, for centuries. They had heard the prophesies. They had told the stories. Luke says “the people thought that the Kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” They want to crown Jesus their king.
The crowds are cheering. But Jesus is crying. Isn’t that interesting? What a crazy contrast. What an unexpected bit of information. The people are cheering and praising and exalting Jesus. But he’s crying.
Jesus willingly rode into Jerusalem to be crowned. With a crown of thorns. A crown of suffering and pain, anguish and shame. This crown of thorns is a strong statement about the kingship of Jesus. This crown represents a whole new way of experiencing the world. This crown represents an entirely different way of seeing success. It shows us a new way to view time and history and reality. This crown is powerful.
The King who wore this crown loved his enemies. His righteousness was greater than that of the Pharisees. He was rich, but he became poor in order to save the world. And as he’s dying on the cross — suffering, suffocating, gasping for his last breath — he uses his final ounces of energy to intercede for his killers, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.”
This crown of thorns is not a detour on the way to the Kingdom of God. It’s not an inconvenient hurdle, not even a necessary obstacle that has to be overcome to get to the Kingdom of God. This crown IS the Kingdom of God! This crown and everything it represents IS the Kingdom of God come on earth just as it is in heaven! It is an eternal statement about the kingship of Jesus and it communicates to us very clearly what God’s Kingdom is all about.
Some people accept this statement. Some people don’t fully understand the statement. And some people flat-out reject it. But, make no mistake: it IS the statement. It is the revelation. Jesus’ victory over sin and death was won in suffering and shame. He willingly, intentionally, determinedly wore the crown. And he is our Almighty King!