The Theology of Thorns

This morning, my son stepped on a thorn. And it hurt.

We get these pesky little thorns we call “goatheads” in our area. I’m not sure if that’s their official name or not, but they are a frequent occurance and the bane of all our bike tires.

It might not seem significant or at all theological, this little thorn, but it is.

It is a sign of the consequences of sin.

When Adam and Eve were first placed in the garden, thorns were not an issue. They didn’t fight them off when they worked the land, and I would be willing to bet they didn’t hurt their feet when they walked barefoot.

Then sin.

“And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

And the ground, as well as the hearts of mankind and all of creation, was marked by this sin bearing its consequences. Because of sin, mankind would live with thorns.

But God would make a way, and even through the thorns, He would make all things right again.

He would appear to Moses in a burning thorn bush to begin the Exodus from Egypt, revealing himself as the “I AM.” (Acts 7:30, Exodus 3)

He would instruct the people of Israel to build the tabernacle, the place where His presence would dwell among them, out of Acacia: a wood that was covered in long thorns. (Exodus 26:29)

And one day, Jesus, the one who also called himself the “I AM” (John 8:58), God incarnate, would wear those thorns as a crown upon His head as he died on the cross.

“They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!””
‭‭Matthew 27:29 NLT

He would live a life free from sin and yet bear the consequences of all of them.

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:21‬ NLT

This sacrifice, this making us rights with God, gives us the ability to be with God forever. We still live in and amongst the consequences of sin at the present, but it will not always be so. And at the end of time, Jesus will return and the curse will be no more.

“Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.”
Revelation 22:1-5

So yes. This Good Friday, my son stepping on a thorn is theological.

It is a reminder of the brokenness of this world, of the One who bore the cross and the thorns, and that one day, all of creation will be made new, the consequences of sin will no more…

And thorns will never again pop bike tires and make little toes bleed.