“That’s not my crown! It’s Jesus’ crown!”

I had ordered a crown of thorns last year as a prop for a stock photography session for Lightstock and it has sat on the top shelf of our bookshelf for a year, occasionally being moved for dusting or straightening of books.

A couple times since the purchase I have heard my husband say “ow!” And when we ask what happened he’ll say “I just pricked my finger on Jesus’ crown!”

A month or so ago my son pretended to put it on his sister. The mock crown is made of real thorns. They hurt.

“Knock it off!” She yelled. “That’s not my crown! It’s Jesus’ crown!”

I knew there was a sermon, so to speak, in there somewhere but my brain is mush most days and this was one of those days so I just filed it away to think about another time.

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I took the crown down again a couple of days ago to photograph for stock photography again this year. The sunlight was pouring through our kitchen window perfectly and it was the first time I’d been inspired to shoot something in almost two months.

I laid the crown on my new Bible and in the center I placed a communion cup filled with grape juice and then two pieces of broken bread (incidentally, I accidentally purchased 1,000 sealed plastic communion cups. I have 999 left. Let me know if your church needs some.).

“That’s not my crown! It’s Jesus’ crown!”

Ouch.

If we as Christians truly believe Jesus lived and died and now lives again, then we must believe the full story and that is that the crown of thorns, of pain, of humiliation, was placed on his head and not ours.

And if he took our pain then he also took our sins, past, present and future. And if he took our sins onto himself then he also took our doubts, our loneliness, our health worries, our physical and emotional shortcomings, our failures and all of our questions.

He wore the crown.

He took the nails.

He carried the cross.

He entered hell so we didn’t have to.

The question is, do we really believe that?

And if we really believe that then why don’t we live like we do?

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Part 1: Risen

Each day her memories grew stronger of the day she’d come back from the dead.

The sobs, first in grief, then in joy.

The declarations of praise.

The laughs of disbelief.

The gasps of amazement.

She hadn’t been able to move at first.

She felt weighted down.

Her mind was racing and she tried to remember why she was on her cot in the middle of the day.

Dizziness. Weakness. So warm.

She’d fallen to the ground and her father had placed her here on the cot.

Then – darkness.

She remembered the deep sleep, the voices of her family fading into silence.

“Jairus! The rabbi! He has not come! Tell him to come! We are losing her!”

Josefa bolted upright.

Her body vibrated.

She felt as if she had been struck by lightning.

A tingling feeling rushed from the soles of her feet to the top of her head. She looked around the room, dazed. Three men stood on one side of the room, looking at her in disbelief. One burst into laughter, seeming to be delighted at the sight of her. Another had his hands and face raised upward, his lips moving but no sound coming out.

A fourth was standing before her, hands outstretched, a peaceful expression on his face.

Suddenly her parents were clutching her to them, both taking turns to kiss her and cry. Their voices were loud, unabashedly loud, sounds she’d never heard from them before. They were always reserved, quiet, certain to look proper to the community around them.

What had happened? Why did she suddenly have so much energy when she could remember feeling so weak only moments before?

Josefa heard his voice, soft, gentle, yet firm.

“Do you not see? Your daughter is alive. Get her food, drink. She will need her strength.”

How could someone speak with such authority yet also with such love?

“Yes, of course, Rabbi.”

The voice of her father was reverent, trembling with emotion.

The water against her lips was cool as voices spoke excitedly around her.

“Praise be to God!”

The man who had told her parents to bring her food sat next to her, placed his hand on her forehead. His eyes were full of kindness, of life. When she looked at him it seemed as they were the only people in the room. She could hear only his voice, see only his eyes.

“Josefa, your life has been returned to you. Go forth and live it fully.”

His hands were warm as he cupped her face in them. He kissed her forehead then gently lifted her face to look into his.

“Do you understand?”

She nodded meekly, not sure she truly did understand, but knowing she wanted to.

The man her father had called Rabbi stood and turned to the other men in the room.

“Peter, James, John, we must leave. There are others who need us.”

Her parents took his hand, kissed it and then each cheek.

“Rabbi, how can we ever –“

His voice interrupted them, he gently shook his head, raised his hand.

“This is a gift. Treasure it. Tell no one what has happened here. This gift is for your family alone.”

Josefa could hear members of the crowd outside calling to him as he left.

“Jesus! Jesus! Are you who they say you are?”

“Tell us, Jesus. Are you truly the Messiah?”

“Jesus, your followers say you call yourself the Son of God. Who do you say you are?”

_____

(This post was previously published, but I needed to make some changes. The story will continue in future posts.)

Can you give me a sign, Lord?

Reading the Bible as a reference for a story I’m working on, (Plus I should be reading it more anyhow) I noticed there are a couple of different times it is noted, at least in the NIV version, that Jesus “sighed deeply.” I’m not sure if this translation from Hebrew and Greek is correct or not, but it cracks me up. I can actually see Jesus rolling his eyes in his particular part from Mark.

“The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.” (Mark 8:11)

In my head, this is how it went down: “Seriously? A sign? Why do you people always want a sign?”

Mocking tone: “‘Give me a sign and then I’ll do it.’ It’s like you just want to procrastinate in doing what you know my Father is asking you do to. Just believe it or don’t. Don’t wait for fire from heaven. If it is God’s will you’ll begin to see your path clear, if it isn’t, the path will be closed. I really don’t have time for this. I have others who listen and don’t ask me for signs. Disciples, let’s blow this village.”

And then he pivoted on his feet and walked away.

So anyhow, I have these decisions to make in my life and I need a sign. You think God will give me one?