By Pastor Anthony L. Scott
“Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.”
The Kentucky Derby is an annual horse race held on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs, capping a two-week long festival bearing the same name. This race pits three-year hold thoroughbreds in what has been call the most dynamic two minutes in sports as both jockeys and horses give it their all for two kilometers in pursuit of a lucrative purse. The crowning feature of the race comes when the winner is draped in a blanket of roses, hence the name Run for the Roses.
In addition to jockeys, beauty contestants seek to be the one holding the bouquet of roses at the end of a competitive pageant. This is because there is within each of us a desire to have or be the best. We set goals and strive with determination to reach those goals. Our challenge ultimately is not then with high achievement, but with the obstacles we encounter in pursuit of our goals.
Roses are held highly as the most esteemed flower. In fact, a rose is a symbol for greatness. Yet in reaching for greatness we often encounter setbacks. I have discovered that no one can reach for the roses of life without a willingness to encounter the thorns that accompany high achievement.
When I consider the various symbols of the Calvary Event, the cross, the tree, the cup, and the blood are a few that come to mind. The two that leap out from the scripture above are the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Jesus could not wear the robe of royalty without encountering the thorns. We can therefore surmise that thorns are the things we experience when we reach for the robes of life. Those things that seek to deter us when we strive for the best in daily activities.
Think for a moment, it is most often the little things in life we must overcome. As beautiful as the perfectly sculptured rose may be, there is always present on its stem a thorn, which can prick and injure you. Likewise, as we strive for excellence in life, we are constantly discomforted with many petty, negative thorns that prick us in our efforts. It’s not the boulders that irritate us but the small pebbles in our shoes. We never swat at the eagles flying above but the flies and mosquitoes below. A mound of dirt has never caused any of us to be uncomfortable but that speck of dust in the eye is a worrisome irritant. It is the small petty adversaries that constantly wear and tear us down that become our thorns.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, the Apostle Paul had what he called a thorn in the flesh. With all of the success he would attain in preaching the gospel, the thorn would serve as a constant reminder that it is God who supplies His power in our weakness so that we can be and become what He has designed and destined.
God’s purpose in thorns is to show us that God’s grace is sufficient and God’s Word is trustworthy when our strength is depleted by the thorns along our path. Whether it is an ache or a pain in your body that is yet to be healed, a scar from an accident, or an unhealed incision from a past surgery. You may have a physical birth defect, a hindering handicap, or a nagging temptation you struggle to overcome. Whatever your thorn may be, we must patiently endure the thorns that God does not remove, relying upon God’s Amazing Grace for strength as we Run for the Roses.