In the desert, cacti and thorn bushes mean business. Often, there are impenetrable thickets of rough bushes with spiky thorns that hurt even if you catch a glancing blow. Some cacti don’t even wait for a glancing blow but eject their little hairs to hurl at you as the wind of your passage awakens them. Desert thorns means business.
It wasn’t always that way. When the earth was created and the Garden of Eden planted nothing inside the Garden would hurt man as he passed. Which was good, because he was naked and not ashamed. Soft plants, beauteous flowers, stately trees, and mild animals dotted the landscape.
Then sin entered the world through one man, Adam, and because he listened to the voice of his wife, the ground became cursed. In some places today, the landscape even hurts to look at it.
After the Fall, thorns sprung up everywhere. Thorns hurt, thorns are negative, thorns are because of sin.
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;
18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
Anytime there was a curse thereafter, thorns are frequently mentioned as part of the curse. (Nu 33:55; Jos 23:12-13; Isa 5:5-6; 7:23-25; 55:8-13; Jer 12:13; Hos 9:6). Jesus used the symbols of “thorns” in his teaching in a negative sense (Matt. 7:16; Mark 4:7, 18; Heb. 6:8).
Thorns came in with sin, and were part of the curse that was the product of sin, Gen. 3:18. Therefore Christ, being made a curse for us, and dying to remove the curse from us, felt the pain and smart of those thorns, nay, and binds them as a crown to him (Job 31:36); for his sufferings for us were his glory. Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume.
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Ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.’ (Isaiah 55: 12-13)
Trees ‘clapping their hands’ is indicative of the fact that creation will no longer groan (Romans 8:22) but be glad.
In the crown of thorns placed upon His head, it was not only a mocking activity performed by pagans, but symbolic of the Lamb caught in the thorn thicket when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac. It is symbolic of the curse of sin that Jesus took upon Himself, so that we may escape it through Him.
When you see that crown of thorns, and you think about the mockery and pain Jesus endured on our behalf, think about Him the spotless Lamb taking upon Himself the sins you and I do daily.
The Roman soldiers unknowingly took an object of the curse and fashioned it into a crown for the one who would deliver us from that curse. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). (source)
What a tremendous, loving, wonderful Savior we have in Jesus Christ.
Can you imagine the Wal-Mart floral department offering a bouquet of thorns? Does the Garden Center ever advertise Acacia thorn bushes? Do carpenters choose two-by-fours made of thorn wood? Except for our botanist friends, few people find thorns captivating. They are not beautiful. And they don’t seem very useful, though they do burn extremely well. The negative associations of thorns are what make their appearance in the Bible so intriguing, for God weaves these very thorns into the revelation of His grace. He gives them a star role in the unfolding drama of His judgment and unbelievable mercy.
In the original Eden you didn’t have to have cultivated planned crops, and you didn’t have any weeds. You had the natural flourishing of the earth producing all manner of food without crops, as we know them, that now produce flour and from that we make bread and there was no siach, no weeds which grow profusely now. And it also mentions in chapter 2 verse 5 that the rain contributes to that as we well know. Take a vacant piece of dirt, do nothing to it, just wait and let it rain and you will have a flourishing field full of weeds.
After Jesus’ sham trials and subsequent flogging, and before He was crucified, the Roman soldiers “twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said” (Matthew 27:29; see also John 19:2-5). While a crown of thorns would be exceedingly painful, the crown of thorns was more about mockery than it was about pain.