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"Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns" (John 19:55Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! (John 19:5)). What a contrast is this humiliating picture of the Son of God, to the crowns of reward with which the Lord would encourage us! Yet this thorny, cruel crown preceded all others. Desirable and glorious are the crowns promised to Christians, but no thought of them can be divorced from that crown of shame an d suffering which brought forth mocking and jeers from the crowners. Was it not enough that they had condemned Him to death, without lacerating His sacred head with those cruel spikes? Yet He bore it all patiently, knowing the crowns of glory that were to follow, and without which they could not be.
"Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame."
While we would not forget any part of our dear Lord's suffering for us, our hearts rejoice that this is not the end of the story. Paul reminds us, "We see Jesus... crowned with glory and honor" (Heb. 2:99But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9)). No longer the shameful crown of thorns, but crowned with glory and honor. The world cannot see this crown, but with the eye of faith we see our Lord Jesus now thus crowned. In a future time, not very far distant, we believe, we shall actually see Him wearing a "golden crown" (Rev. 14:1414And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. (Revelation 14:14)); and then, what a glorious moment when we shall lay our crowns before Him, the Author and Finisher of faith.
Crown of righteousness is a reward Paul was expecting, for he had previously said, "I have fought a good fight,... I have kept the faith." He assures us, however, that this crown was not for him only, but for all those who love His appearing.
Crown of glory, Peter tells us, is given to those who feed the flock of God. The reading of the previous verses would take away any feeling of superiority one might be tempted to assume by position, for responsibility is here coupled with meekness. But what a glorious crown to be won!
Crown of life. Everyone who believes on the Lord Jesus, and claims Him as his Savior, has life—eternal life. But here the crown is for those who endure temptation and are faithful unto death. Eternal life is a gift of God, but the crown here is held out as a reward for faithfulness.
Crowns of gold. Here we see the actual crowns and their substance. The rewards of God are rich, fitting for those who are partakers of His divine nature; but even in glory, where we shall be made perfect, and be like Him through His divine grace, we shall be conscious of our own unworthiness to wear them, and cast them down at His feet.
Is it any wonder that we are entreated to "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." No one can take away the life which we have in Christ Jesus—0 praise the Lord! but this verse in Rev. 3:1111Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (Revelation 3:11) makes it clear that we can lose our crown.
Again, behold that crown of thorns, which made all other crowns possible. The insult and mockery of that crown, which was borne so meekly, draws out all our devotion to the One who suffered for such creatures as we.
May we never forget that crown on the cross at Calvary. Sweetly resting in His love, and safely sheltered by His precious blood, leave also the crowns in His care; for without Christ, we can do nothing.