A friend of mine asked what was the emblem on my shirt. “It’s a thistle; Scotland’s national flower!” He made a catty comment about a thistle being a weed in Australia! What makes a weed a weed? Is a weed really just a plant growing in the wrong place? Does this not then make the English rose a weed if, like the Scottish thistle, it grows in Australia?
Regardless of how aesthetically pleasing to the eye roses and blooming thistles are, would an Australian farmer be happier with rosebushes instead of thistles growing in the middle of his cereal crop? Do you see what I’m getting at? Both the rose and the thistle have at least one thing in common; they can cause pain. This tells us something profound.
Thorns and thistles are a sign to us of God’s covenantal curse. When Adam sinned against God in the Garden of Eden, the Lord said to Him: “…Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food…” Genesis 3:17b-19a.
No longer was there a smorgasbord of delightful food laid on for him. Now man needed to toil hard for his bread in the midst of inedible thorns and thistles: weeds (i.e., plants growing in the wrong place!) Adam the ‘gardener’ became ‘Farmer Adam’ when he ate the forbidden fruit.
Out of the garden he was sent with his wife Eve to toil among the weeds in the wilderness. Angels and a flaming sword guarded the way back to the tree of life.
Enter the new Man, Jesus Christ, the replacement, i.e., the last Adam. His ministry began in the wilderness with the devil talking to Him about bread. Later Jesus asked His disciples to consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: neither do they toil nor spin; yet God provides for them. How much more will He provide for His own adopted children who toil and spin by the sweat of their brow?
As Abraham’s substitute sacrifice had its head caught in a thicket, so Jesus went to the cross with His head tangled in thorns. God’s fiery wrath came upon His head for our sins incinerating the curse. Scripture says: “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden” John 19:41a. And after He was raised from the dead Mary Magdalene saw Him “supposing Him to be the gardener…” John 20:15.
We’re back in the garden with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, ultimately the thornless and thistle-less Paradise. So, next time you see a thistle or a rose, consider the profundity of the Saviour.
Excerpted from "The Song of Creation & Other Contemplations": http://www.amazon.com/SONG-CREATION-OTHER-CONTEMPLATIONS-ebook/dp/B006WRZDES/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_11