Remembering His Cost was Our Gain
“They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then 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. They spit on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again. After they had mocked Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led Him away to crucify Him.” Isaiah 52: 13, 14 says, “See, my servant will act wisely; He will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at Him–His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness.” (Matthew 27:28-31)
In contrast was the atonement day of Christ
When I first got started in the Arabian Horse business, my parents and I attended a special coronation celebration for a beautiful Arabian Stallion. On a Saturday night, in Lincoln, Nebraska we sat in a large indoor arena, excitingly watching this beautiful horse receive the very high honor of “Legion of Merit.”The lights were turned off and a large spotlight appeared at the entrance gate. Music was playing and our hearts beat with anticipation. Then suddenly a beautiful bay stallion with long black flowing mane and tail entered at a gallop. The spot light followed him as he loped through the arena while the announcer told of all the achievements that this horse had accomplished. When the announcer was finished, the horse trainer entered and called the horse to come to him. With lights upon them, a coronation of roses was fastened around his neck and laid across his chest. With a standing ovation this beautiful Arabian Stallion was led from the arena.
In contrast was the atonement day of Christ–the day the perfect man received for a coronation a crown of thorns. He went about accomplishing the complete will of God, healing the sick, feeding the multitudes and raising the dead. If anyone was worthy of honor it was Him. Yet, He was not greeted with lights and music, but darkness came over the land. (Luke 23:44) He did not receive a coronation of roses, a public announcement of achievements and a standing ovation. Rather, He was given a crown of thorns and afflictions from men. “They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then 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. They spit on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again. After they had mocked Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led Him away to crucify Him.” Isaiah 52: 13, 14 says, “See, my servant will act wisely; He will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at Him–His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness.”
We have chosen this Sunday to observe Easter by observing the Lord’s command to His church. (1 Corinthians 11:23) The observing of Communion is a blessed occasion and the Lord Jesus was clear in His instructions to the Apostle Paul, “…do this in remembrance of Me.” (1 Corinthians 11: 24, 25) I would propose to you that Jesus means for the Communion service to be a lot more than just a religious observance, but to keep fresh in our minds the act of sacrificial love He has for us.
What are we to remember? What are the blessings of His wounds?
Sometimes we need to talk about and meditate on the battlefield wounds our Lord received as He paid the price for the redemption of our very souls.I grew up in home were I did not experience the frustrations and heartaches of war. Most of my life no one ever took time to talk to me about the cost of war. I have watched closely at the “Veteran’s Day Parade” and took notice how the young find their joy in grasping for the candy. The youth are captivated by their friends who ride on the floats. But, it is those who have tasted the bitter fruit of war in some way, they are the ones who appreciate the men and women of whom the Veteran’s Day remembrance parade is for. I have to admit, it took getting to know a veteran who received a purple heart and hearing the story of how he received that honorable medal, before I could grasp the truths of Veteran’s Day. Because I took time to listen and meditated upon the cost of one of our American soldiers, I attend the “Veteran Day Parade” with a much different outlook.
Crown of thorns
The Word of God gives us great details on the “Battlefield Wounds of Christ” which were inflicted upon Jesus Christ as He gave His life for our redemption. Taking time to remember those wounds and understanding what He purchased for us could fan into flames the love we should be expressing all year long to our Lord. The scene of the battlefield of which Christ was on was humanity at his worst and Jesus was inflicted with many wounds, one was a “crown of thorns.” Jesus came to rule in the hearts and souls of men, and the rebellion of man’s soul wounded Him. He came to rule the wills of His people, and the resistance of self-will hurt Him. He came to rule in righteousness, to cast out all unrighteousness, and the wickedness of the world turned against Him. The crown that the soldiers pressed on the brow of Jesus was meant only for insult with the purpose of causing pain and mockery. Yet, even through their view and pleasures, God was pronouncing some power truths. Thorns came in with sin and became part of the curse that was the product of sin. (Genesis 3:18) Therefore Christ, being made a curse for us, and dying to remove that curse from us, felt the pain and hurt of those thorns. Jesus’ bearing the crown of thorns answers the type of Abraham’s ram, which took the place of Isaac. (Barnes Notes; New Bible Dictionary; Matthew Henry’s Commentary) The “thicket” (bak) that the ram had his horns caught in were a dense growth of heavy shrubs or underbrush that are intertwined in a manner that would catch persons or creatures and were very difficult to go through. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary; Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains) The Bible is very clear, God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you…” (Genesis 3:18) Thistles (darda) were a very prickly plant having no value for producing life giving fruit. Even though they are a luxuriantly growing plant, they are still a worthless plant. (Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains; Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament) Thorns (qowts) are a non-fruit bearing bush noted for their sharp, wood-splinter-like spines or tines. (Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains)
It has been said that “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.” Sin holds you in bondage and keeps you from having a fruitful relationship with Christ. Sin grows vigorously yet will leave you in a worthless state of mind and heart. It was the custom of some heathen nations to bring their sacrifices to the altars, crowned with garlands; these thorns were the garlands with which the greatest Sacrifice, Jesus Christ was crowned. That garland, the crown of thorns represents all that He was to die for, the sins of the world.
Sin, sooner or later becomes public, thus, Christ wore publicly the “Crown of Thorns” a representation of that which brings disgrace on all men. Symbolically Jesus wore our sins so all could see, so that we may receive forgiveness and have our sin no longer to be remembered against us. Another wound that was laid upon our Lord was mocking. Matthew 27:29 says, “They put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’” A definition for mock is an object of ridicule. The common mode of showing respect or homage for kings was kneeling or prostration. This showed the tremendous love that Christ has for us. He withstood a false homage from the sinful wicked so that we may not have to remain guilty of sin that always brings mockery in the end. In the workplace it is not uncommon to see co-workers encourage sinful behavior that leads to all kinds of outward manifestation such as lying, adultery, and the misuse of God’s name. Worldly attitudes cause all to eventually misuse gifts, talents, and skills that God has given to mankind. When the manifestations of the sinful nature reach the point of public embracement, mockery comes from the co-workers, who by their actions and words encourage the sinful behavior. I have seen the very ones who encouraged flirting among the man and female sexes, mock those who eventually become involved in adultery. I have heard those who encouraged back biting, telling dirty or off colored jokes, and wrong attitudes, publicly bad mouth those they have encouraged to live a sinful lifestyle. Sin always brings approach, heartache and emotional drain.
Jesus undertook His Father’s will. No one could not find any real fault in Him so they hurled Him with lying accusations and put Him through an unlawful trial. Mockery and reproach is at all times very cutting to a man’s integrity. Yet our Lord took those words and actions of mockery for the sake of God and us. The Holy Spirit spoke through David, a man after God heart, reflecting the heart of Christ regarding His Father’s will, “For I endure scorn for your sake…” (Psalm 69:7; The Treasury of David) That is exactly what Jesus did for His Father and us. Jesus was stripped when He was put on the Cross and no doubt this brought further mockery as He hung there exposed to the cruel gaze of a huge amount of people. (The Expositors Bible Commentary; Barnes Notes) The Romans had learned that this type of mockery is a powerful way to break a person mentally and especially emotionally. Mockery does not affect the body but it puts tremendous strain on the mind and tears at the heart of a person. Woman and children have been scared for an entire life time from emotional and mental abuse. In war or sports, if you can intimidate or break the heart of your opponent the battle is half over. Sin brings destruction to every part of our lives and this includes our emotions. Thus, our Lord suffered in mocking and reproach, being placed on the Cross of Calvary naked. (Barnes Notes; The Expositors Bible Commentary; Matthew Henry Commentary)
Salvation is often represented as a garment. (Matthew 22:11; Revelations 6:11; 7:9,13-14) In the Bible those who are bound by sin, those who do not have Christ as Savior and Lord are considered naked. Those who are naked are exposed to cold, storms and shame. The human soul that is not clothed in the Salvation of Christ is in the worst condition that mankind can find themselves in. A soul naked, unclothed in Christ Jesus has no protection from sin. Christ bore our shame on the Cross, so that all who have Jesus as personal Savior and Lord may be clothed in the righteousness of Christ, no longer naked and bearing the shame that comes with sin.
Flogging or scourging
In the battle for the souls of mankind Christ wore the “Crown of Thorns” representing the sins of the world. He took our mocking and bore our shame. Another battle wound laid upon Jesus was flogging or scourging. Matthew 27:26 says, “…he [Pilate] had Jesus flogged.” The New American Standard Bible says, “Scourged.”
Among the Romans it was customary to scourge or whip a slave before he was crucified. This was done to inflict greater suffering and cause a quicker death while adding horrors to the punishment. Our Lord was put to death after the manner of a slave or a criminal therefore He was treated as a slave and a criminal. This is because sin puts mankind into bondage and causes him to become a criminal. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34) He took upon Himself the sins of the world. Sin is in the heart of every criminal. Our Lord was scourged with a whip made of leather straps with two small balls attached to the end of each strap. The balls were made of rough lead or sharp bones or small spikes, so they would cut deeply into the flesh. His hands were most likely tied to a post above His head and He was scourged.
The prophet Isaiah catches the reality of what Jesus was to look like when He would be scourged for our sins and he writes, “Just as there were many who were appalled at Him – His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human likeness.” (Isaiah 52:14) The word for appalled (shamem) means to stun, stupefy, to grow dumb. The practical application here is that His body was so disfigured because of His suffering that people would be struck numb or put to silence from sudden astonishment. When we hear of the results of sin on the news today or when sin has brought a tragedy into the lives of family members, people are struck with numbness and they are put to silence from sudden astonishment. We were shocked with the news of a pastor’s wife shooting her husband, of a child killer serving regularly in his local church.
While attending horse shoeing college I listen to a retired homicide detective share how it never gets easy walking in on a homicide scene. Every time it makes you want to cover your eyes, turn and look the other way for you just can’t stand to look on the sight of such a horrific scene. The sight of a loved one suffering the long term effects of addiction, a life without Christ and heading for hell is a horrific sight. John the Baptist spoke a powerful truth concerning Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29) The sins of the entire world were being laid upon Jesus. The Bible says, “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) Jesus’ appearance had to be horrible for He was taking on the grief and physical abuse of every sin committed before that first Easter, sins committed since Calvary and sins that will be committed until we get the New Heaven and Earth.
Another battlefield wound of Christ is the Crucifixion. The Bible says, “After they had mocked Him… Then they led Him away to crucify Him.” (Matthew 27:31) When Pilate asked the crowd, “What shall I do with Jesus who is the Christ?” (Matthew 27:22) The people answered with, “Crucify Him!” (Matthew 27:22)
We are often told not to focus upon the physical aspect of the cross; but we cannot possibly have too vivid picture of what Jesus took for us on the Cross of Calvary. Klausner, the Jewish writer, says, “Crucifixion is the most terrible and cruel death which man has ever devised for taking vengeance on his fellow man.” He continues with, “The criminal was fastened to his cross, already a bleeding mass from the scourging. There the criminal hung to die from hunger, thirst and exposure, unable to defend himself from the torture of the gnats and flies that settle on his naked body and on his bleeding wounds.” Our modern day pictures painted of Jesus hanging upon the Cross do not give the full picture of what Christ suffered. The results of sin have affected many and left them unable to defend themselves from the destruction of sin. Many young people are victimized by exposure to pornography, humanistic views and a world despising of the things of God. A great famine of hearing the Word of God is causing many around the world to literally die of spiritual hunger and thirst. For this reason Jesus carried the battlefield wound of crucifixion. The wounds that He was afflicted with in the conquest for the souls of man were a curse for Him but a blessing for us. These blessings do not come as a reward for good works but for God’s name sake. God had given the prophet Isaiah great understanding of the work of the Lord, he writes, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. (Isaiah 43:25) The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
God had revealed to King David some powerful truths of God’s loving hand, he writes, “[God] does not treat us our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities… as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:10,12) God demonstrated His love for us by giving His son for us (John 3:16) and Jesus showed it by lying down His life for us. (1 John 3:16) Jesus said, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:18) He also said, “The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life–only to take it up again.” (John 10:17)
The great news about Easter is that it records the end of the life of Christ upon this present earth before He was taken up to be once again with His father. Yet before He leaves this earth, He opens the way for man to enter into the Holy of Holies for communion with God. The Bible says at the moment Jesus gave up His spirit willingly, the curtain of the temple was torn into from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:50-51; Mark 15:38; The Bible Knowledge Commentary; The Bible Exposition Commentary; Daily Study Bible Series) Before His return to the abode of God, Jesus gets victory over death, the grave and all the workings of hell, thus paving the way for Christians to get victory over sin. The Bible says, “…if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11)
The Apostle Paul lived a Holy Spirit led and empowered life and out of his relationship with Christ and in his revelation of God, the Holy Spirit moved him to write, “…in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37) “More than Conquerors” (hupernikao) meaning that through Christ, because who He is and what He has accomplished for us at Calvary and in His resurrection Christians are over comers, able to utterly defeat all that put Christ on the Cross. They can have victory over all that desires to put them in bondage. “The Battlefield Wounds of Christ” were laid upon Him for a reason, because they purchase victory for every man, woman and child that will in repentance turn to Jesus for Salvation and surrender to His Lordship in their entire lives.
Jesus bore the “Crown of Thorns” so you and I can live victoriously over the effects of sin. Instead of living unproductive lives, we can choose to live for Christ producing fruit of eternal life. Instead of facing mockery for a life overcome by sin and the results of it, Christians can enjoy a life that is freed from sin and can see God restore all that sin has taken away. Because Jesus’ body was crushed for our iniquities and His punishment purchased peace with God for Christians, they will receive a new body that is incorruptible in the resurrection of those who lived in Christ.The Holy Spirit of God calls all Christians to be a witnesses to family members, friends and co-workers. Christians are to live in a way that shows the Lordship of Christ over their lives, so they can be seen as children of God who understand fully “The Battlefield Wounds of Christ.” This keeps them from being seen as children at a “Veteran’s Day Parade” who are more captivated by the candy and worldly floats than the veterans who bear the scars of war on their bodies and hearts. We give our Maker and Redeemer a standing ovation by surrendering our entire lives over to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Considering, “The Battle Field Wounds of Christ,” Christians should surrender their businesses, careers, talents and time over to lifting up Jesus Christ for all to see.
In spirit and in truth make this Easter Communion service a new beginning that proclaims, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:11)