Finding answers to life’s perplexing questions can be daunting. It seems like much of life appears to be an escape room. You spend an inordinate amount of time seeking clues and scratching your head on the best way to proceed to your escape. I have found answers and directions in my life in the most unorthodox places. For one Biblical character, his epiphany still has us talking some 5000 years later.
A product of royalty, having been adopted into the most powerful family in the world, Moses’ youth and indiscretions found him in self-imposed exile on the back side of Mt Sinai. He was as one would say, in the middle of nowhere. Even the word “Sinai” according to Jewish tradition means, desert. Scattered among the godforsaken landscape grew bushes with no value whatsoever, the thorn-bush. Moses was no doubt all too familiar with its sharp edges and ability to cause pain when confronted with it. The lowly thorn was first mentioned in Genesis 3 as the result of Adam and Eve’s sin. Now stretching the desert floor for as far as the eye could see, the thorn was an ever-present reminder of the accursed life Moses had now inherited.
One day, while tending sheep, Moses saw something that had to be investigated, a burning bush. Jewish rabbinic tradition indicates that the bush on fire was not only the “lowliest” of thorn briers, but the most dangerous for feeding a wildfire. As he got closer to it, he saw something that left him speechless, this highly combustible shrub wasn’t being consumed at all. Centuries later, some rabbis contend that this burning object represented the oven Hebrew youth Shadrach, Meschach and Obednego were thrown into and lived. This conglomeration of thorns, according to Jewish tradition, indicated it was the “lowliest” place for the Lord to be among His people. It was through thorns, God shared His plans for Moses, His people, and showed His compassion for us even today.
Imagine the lowliest object on earth, thorns, God using to affirm His direction and love for His people. Sixty-six times the word thorn or brier is used in the Bible, but none were more important than the ones referred to in Matthew 27:29. It is there that it speaks of a “braided crown of thorns placed upon Jesus’ head” prior to being crucified.
The Bible is filled with symbolism and meaning. But wouldn’t you agree that it overwhelms us even now when we think that through the cursed thorn, like Moses, we too can find direction? As we reflect on Good Friday, the thorn once again plays an important symbol of God’s love. As Jesus hung on the cross, it was through this cursed object upon His Son’s head that He spoke to us, and still does. No matter how low our live’s have sunk, God meets us there and His message is still proclaimed through the thorn. Isaiah 53:5 New Life Version (NLV) says, But He was hurt (thorns) for our wrong-doing. He was crushed for our sins. He was punished so we would have peace. He was beaten so we would be healed.
It’s been over two-thousand years since the original Good Friday, but isn’t it amazing, the “Thorns” still talk?