(1) from the romantic legends current among Christians regarding it, from the time of Helena, the mother of Constantine, downwards; and
(2) from the frequent representations of the thorn-crowned Redeemer produced by Christian painters, who have used all the resources of their art to give to the "Ecce Homo!" the interest of sorrow and of spiritual beauty.
I. THE OBVIOUS AND ORIGINAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CROWN OF THORNS.
1. It was an evidence of the cruelty and brutality of Christ's foes. The actual plaiting of the crown, and the actual placing of it upon the holy Sufferer's head was the deed of the Roman soldiers. Insensibility to the pain experienced by Jesus may have been natural to such men; but the mockery and scorn displayed in the pretence of homage must have been learned from the Jews.
2. It was an opportunity for Jesus to exhibit those moral qualities which have ever since been peculiarly associated with his name. His patience, his meekness, this dignity, were never more conspicuous than when he was insulted and ill used by his calumniators and foes. Nor can we see that such dispositions could have been so strikingly exhibited except in circumstances such as those in which the Man of sorrows was then placed.
II. THE SYMBOLIC AND PROPHETIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CROWN OF THORNS.
1. This affecting coronation is an emblem of our Savior's earthly ministry. His career brought together the hate and the loving devotion of multitudes; it was marked by poverty and lowliness, and yet by a majesty quite unique; he was despised and rejected of men, yet his teaching constrained the exclamation, "Never man spake like this Man!" and his miracles constrained the cry, "What manner of Man is this?" The thorns of hatred and contempt were thrust into his head; yet love and loyalty wrought them into a victor's wreath, a monarch's diadem.
2. The crowning of Jesus with thorns symbolized the character of the religion which he founded. The cross was followed by the resurrection; the entombment by the ascension. Thus God brought together, in the career of his own Son, the profoundest humiliation and the most exalted glory. And this arrangement represents the nature of Christianity. It is a religion of humility, contrition, and repentance, and also of peace, victory, and power. It smites the sinner to the earth; it raises the pardoned penitent to heaven.
3. This incident was prophetic of the progress and the victory of the Christian faith. Our religion has indeed triumphed, but it has triumphed through suffering. Its onward course has been marked by the blood of confessors, martyrs, and missionaries, and by the toil and anguish of thousands of faithful promulgators. The thorns of suffering are the means; the crown of glory and of conquest is the end. Christ was made perfect through suffering, and his Church shall reach a universal dominion only by a toilsome path of strife, watered by tears and stained with blood. - T.
I find no fault in Him.
(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)It is very noteworthy that this expression is used three times by Pilate in the same Greek words in St. John's account of the passion (chap. John 18:38; 19:4-6). It was meet and right that he who had the chief hand in slaying the Lamb of God, the Sacrifice for our sins, should three times publicly declare that he found no spot or blemish in Him. He was proclaimed a Lamb without spot or fault, after a searching examination, by him that slew Him.
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