Following the death of our Queen, we have been thinking of the theme of crowns. The Queen made no secret of her faith, particularly in more recent years, and we have no reason to doubt her security in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Queen’s life was pretty extraordinary, but one of the many things that made her life unique was that she sometimes wore a physical crown. One of the great things about being a follower of Jesus is that we also have a share in the practice of ‘crown-wearing’ as well!
There are five crowns listed in the NT:
The Imperishable Crown
‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.’ (1 Corinthains 9:24-25 NIV)
Isn’t it great that we endure in our faith for a prize that will last forever – this provides a reminder of this great passage in Peter’s first epistle:
‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.’ (1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV)
We an incentive to persist with discipline and the strict training needed to live a faithful life for the Lord?!
The Crown of Rejoicing
‘For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes…is it not you?’ (1 Thessalonians 2:19 NIV)
In the passage above, Paul is encouraging a suffering church which is experiencing severe persecution. In a world notably absent of joy at times, what a great promise – this is something which is reiterated in Revelation:
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ (Revelation 21:4 NIV)
The Crown of Righteousness
‘Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.’ (2 Timothy 4:8 NIV)
This righteousness is not earned by us – it is the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, but we get a crown that certifies it belongs to us!
Do you long for Jesus’ appearing? Isn’t it great that there is a crown specifically awarded to those yearning for Jesus’ return? At the very least, that is a very achievable goal when compared to some of the other crowns!
The Crown of Glory
‘And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.’ (1 Peter 5:4 NIV)
Although this is specifically addressed to the elders within the body of God’s people, we’re sure there is a share in this for all those who wisely disciple the ‘flock’ within the faith – a function that applies to every believer in some way.
We’ve seen the crown resting on the Queen’s coffin this week decorated with an array of precious stones in all its glory. How much more glorious will the heavenly crown of glory be?!
The Crown of Life
‘Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.’ (Revelation 2:10 NIV)
These words come straight from the lips of Jesus. In the West, it is less likely we will be awarded the crown of life as that seems to be specifically linked to martyrdom but there are many around the world for whom this is a very real promise and source of great comfort.
So, these are the five crowns described in the NT. However, while on the subject of crowns, it is sobering to consider that our Lord Jesus also wore a crown when he was on earth – it was a crown of thorns:
‘Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27:27-31 NIV, emphasis added)
This horrific crown represented the pinnacle of the physical, mental and spiritual anguish which He suffered on our behalf. This represents an incredible exchange as He took our place to provide a way for us to have a share in the Kingdom of God.
What is even more amazing is what happens to these heavenly crowns (described as ‘crowns of gold’) in the throneroom of God:
‘Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads… They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”’ (Revelation 4:4, 10-11 NIV)
The elders (who seem to represent God’s redeemed throughout history) present these crowns before the throne of God in complete submission and worship.
Our departed Queen will not be able to take her physical crown into the throne room but our prayer is that she had some of the crowns described above. The great thing is that every believer has a part in this amazing scene in God’s throne room:
‘Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”’ (Revelation 5:13 NIV)
As we continue to mourn the passing of our Queen who was so dearly loved, isn’t it incredible to consider the possibility of being reunited with her in this amazing scene one day?!