“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b (NIV)
Many of us, who love working in our yards and flowerbeds or walking in nature, feel closer to God when we take time to appreciate the beauty. I think it is because we feel His presence in each blooming flower, blade of green grass, the buzzing bees, the singing birds and even in the weeds that need pulling. I liken this love of nature to God’s love for us. He created these things for us to enjoy, not to destroy. The weeds are a reminder to me that He wants to remove the bad stuff in our lives to make us more like Jesus.
Recently, while trimming my rose bushes, I noticed blood running down my forearms. I had on gardening gloves but could not bring myself to wear long sleeves. It was too warm. The thorns had ripped my flesh and as I watched the blood dripping from my arms, it was a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
His suffering is greater than anything I could ever imagine. The crown of thorns planted on His head caused more pain than what I felt from the barb of a rose bush. On a pilgrimage to Israel last year, I purchased an authentic Crown of Thorns, a vivid symbolic reminder of the suffering He endured for us.
Scripture tells us that the soldiers “platted a crown of thorns” or braided vines of thorns together to form a crown. According to my research, there are two types of thorn plants growing around the Holy Land. One is called the Zizyphus Spina Christi and the other qundaul. While both have long, flexible twigs that can be woven into crowns, the qundaul has the cruelest thorns of the two. The brutality of the soldiers has led most theologians to believe that the qundaul plant, with its spikes of 1 to 1 ½ inches long, was the one used for Jesus’ crown of torture.
Can you imagine the pain and humiliation Jesus suffered at the hands of the soldiers? Why would their desire to mock Him lead to the weaving of a crown of thorns, a task that could have easily wounded their own bodies if they had been careless?
Careless is a word that applies to us if we are not aware of the thoughts, words and actions that can lead to our own destruction and others around us. Our Savior hung painfully on a wooden cross with a crown of thorns pushed into His scalp. He endured it for me. He endured it for you.
I believe it is no coincidence that spring and Easter coincide. Just as the flowers burst through the soil to reveal their beauty, our Savior rose from the dead three days after being killed in a manner most of us cannot comprehend. Friday was not the end. It was only the beginning.
Have you accepted His gift? Are you living in God’s fullness?