241. Steady the Crown

England prepares for history.  The headlines of the world shout it out.  Over many years of outrage against royalty’s abuse of power and revolution against it, most of the left-over nobility live under the radar in order to escape the sly, mean and investigative journalism that feeds the populace.

There is nobody even close to the British when it comes to pulling out all stops on ceremony, formalities, and extravagance.  They can truly set a London stage for pomp and circumstance unequaled anywhere else. 

The Romans loved crowns and coronations.  Many of the traditions of the West date back to their ceremonial traditions.  They were more inclined to wear the crowns to feasts and formal events.  Roman traditions were marked by Christianity when Church leaders tried to prevent some of the  glaring abuses of absolute power by infusing a mindfulness of submission to a greater power.  Most of the royal rulers of history claimed divinity for themselves while demonstrating the corruption of power over generally powerless subjects.

Although the king or queen and the court of noble and aristocratic advisors were supposed to rule for the benefit of the people, all the pacifying words of servanthood to the ordinary citizens quickly dissolved into rigid taxation and excessive partiality in favour of a favoured few for whose extreme tastes and idleness the people slaved away.

Crowns with fabulously bejeweled were made for an array of various court events to indicate the superior status of some.  Today crowns are mostly reserved for royalty at very special events under very strict regulations.

There were two words for crown in Greek:  diadema and stephanos.  The first was a royal crown and the second a crown of joy and victory.  Crowns were symbols of reward, worn to temples and banquets.  The crown was there for the whole world to see the victory and joy of the person rewarded and promoted.

The rewards of the Christian life are usually associated with the Second Coming and the Last Judgment, but it is in this life that a godly life is lived.  The reward of godliness is for NOW.  It is the stamp of approval on a life well-lived.  It is the glory of God in the life of a human being that is measured in truth and righteousness (full compliance with the revealed will of God in all respects), completely contrary to what the world would reward and in a heavenly way, not with earthly acknowledgement that people crave so easily.

We should not let false humility and a pretense of unworthiness rob us of the joy and honour of our coronation in the Kingdom of God.  May the Holy Spirit so anoint your heart that you wear your crown of reward with true humility and gratitude.

The heavenly crowns of the Kingdom of God, where we serve as the royal family, are a wonderful study in God’s grace and love.  He does not seek perfection, rather pursuit.  Our “will to do” (Romans 7) brings us to a place of first restoration and then reward.

In the ancient world the crown (diadema and stephanos) had at least four great associations. 

  • The crown of flowers was worn at times of joy, at weddings and at feasts, the sign of festive joy. 
  • The crown was the mark of royalty. It was worn by kings and by those in authority. Sometimes this was the crown of gold; sometimes it was the linen band, or fillet, worn around the brows (Psalms 21:3; Jeremiah  13:18) 
  • The crown of laurel leaves was the victor’s crown in the games, the prize which the athlete coveted above all
  • The crown was the mark of honour and of dignity. The instructions of parents can bring a crown of grace to those who listen to them (Proverbs 1:9) Wisdom provides a man with a crown of glory (Proverbs 4:9) 

We do not need to choose between these meanings. They are all included. 

The only thing that could rob us of our crown is sin.

The crown has fallen from our head.
Woe to us, for we have sinned! 
(Lamentations 5:16)

Sin will rob you of your crown and despise you in the society whose approval you crave.

The Crown of Life is promised to the Church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:10).  

 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

Life is promised – a new kind of living.  Life to the full, a life of abundance. (John 10:10)  A life full of God, where God protects and provides.

The incorruptible Crown is promised and described by Paul. 

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

  • Life  is a battle
  • To win we must discipline our bodies and minds – facing our problems and claim the victory of the Promise
  • We need to know our goal and the worth of  our goal – incorruptible and imperishable – the life and mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

The Crown of Righteousness is promise to those who desire intimacy with God.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled
. (Matthew 5:6)

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.  (2 Timothy 4:8)

We finish the race and keep the faith.  In the first Olympic Games the athletes had to vow that  they have trained and not reverted to any trickery.  They have adhered to the conditions of participation.

So many Christians, even great and famous preachers and teachers, do not end well.  It is a glorious thing to die in the “race”, in “battle”  so to  speak – fighting the good fight.

The Crown of Glory is given to those who shepherd the flock with diligence.

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. (1 Peter 5:2-4)

Peter says to the elders, “Shepherd your people like God.”  It is our task to show to people God’s forbearance, his forgiveness, his unconditional and seeking love, his ceaseless service. God has allotted to us a task and we must do it as he himself would do it. That is the supreme ideal of service in the Christian Church.

Jesus had promised to his disciples a share in the glory when the Son of Man should come to sit on his glorious throne (Matthew 19:28). Peter remembered both the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration and the promise of glory. 

Peter has something special to say about humility in the verse following.  He uses a word in Greek to suggest humility as protective clothing, like the apron of a servant or slave.  The same word is used when Jesus takes the apron to wash the feet of the disciples.  It is used for a garment tied with a knot.

But it is also used for a garment worn for honour and pre-eminence, a long cape worn over clothing and tied in front.

It is significant that he mentions a garment of humility in the same context as the Crown of Glory.

The Crown of Rejoicing or Exultation is given in the Presence of God with the people who have come into the Kingdom by the living stones of the Temple of God (all of us who are called by his Name).

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:19)

Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.  (Philippians 4:1)


We cannot talk about crowns in the Kingdom of God without mentioning the most spectacular scene in all of the majesty of heaven and the climax over all sin and evil within the grandeur described in Revelation 4 and 5.

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

 “You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”

In the ancient world casting your crown was the sign of complete submission. When one king surrendered to another, he cast his crown at the victor’s feet.  Sometimes the Romans carried with them an image of their emperor and, when they had reduced a monarch to submission, there was a ceremony in which the conquered one had to cast his crown before the emperor’s image. 

God is the conqueror of the souls of men.  The Church is the body of people who have surrendered to him. There can be no Christianity without submission.

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