Franklin Graham: Jesus the Thorn-bearer

April 14, 2017

And some seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. Mark 4:7

If you’ve ever stepped into a briar patch, you understand what thorns do to human flesh. When you’re fortunate enough to get untangled, the pinheads of the thorns seem to run with you. The only time in Scripture that a thorn was used for good comes from the apostle Paul: “Lest I should be exalted . . . a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me. . . . [The Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’ . . . Therefore most gladly, I will rather boast in my infirmities, that power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

We know that Paul did not have a literal thorn piercing his skin, but whatever his infirmity, it stung as though it was a thorn ripping flesh. Paul identifies the “thorn” as a “messenger of Satan.” No wonder the Bible speaks of thorns and snares, a wilderness of thorns, a fire of thorns, a hedge of thorns, and sadly―a crown of thorns. All of these were Satan’s messengers. Jeramiah prophesied the words of the Lord: “Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns” (Jeremiah 4:3). The prophet challenged the hardened hearts of God’s people to break up the thorn-sown ground and make it useful for sowing good seed.

We reflect on the darkness at Calvary when the Lord Jesus hung on the cross with a twisted “crown of thorns . . . on His head . . . And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” (Matthew 27:29). Jesus bore the thorns of our sin. But we also rejoice for the harvest is coming. There is healing from the piercing of the thorns. “Behold . . . on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel . . . crying with a loud voice to Him . . . ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap . . . for the harvest of the earth is rip’” (Revelation 14:14-15).

You see, there is hope. “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11).

When the seed of the Gospel falls upon thorn-filled heart, the truth is pricked against the thorn-seeded lies of Satan and a battle is waged for the soul. Satan will do all within his power to keep the seed from taking root, often victorious in winning a soul for his realm of everlasting darkness. Christians, through the power of Christ, must warn others of the briar patches that entrap the lost.

The Lord said to Ezekiel, “And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briars and thorns are with you . . . You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse” (Ezekiel 2:6-7).

Thorns are inevitable. They should not take us by surprise. We should be aware of them, because we are surrounded by deceit, lies, and corruption; these are the thorn bushes and prickly briars that entangle hearts and minds. They rip open flesh and draw blood. We see it splashed across the news by the hour. Racial bias inflames bigotry. Immorality engulfs even the young. Justification for breaking God’s laws incites violence. These are the thorny briars that choke the flow of joyful living.

Florists often de-thorn roses before plunging them into a water filled vase creating a lush bouquet. Likewise, briars are snares that trap the water. So it is with the farmer who diligently works to de-thorn his field so that briars will not choke out the life of the seed, allowing rain to seep into the soil. This is what happens when a sinner is transformed by Christ’s salvation―the Vinedresser cuts away the thorns and dethrones Satan, bringing newness if life as we bow to the Master’s way. Let the faith that heals trample out the thorns that wound. The One who heals our thorn pricks and bears our burdens, is Jesus, the Thorn-bearer.

from Rocks, Dirty Birds, and Briars by Franklin Graham

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