17 – Zizyphus spina-christi / Christ’s Thorn Jujube

Traditionally on Ascension Sunday these words are often sung The head that once was crowned with thorns, is crowned with glory now, a Royal diadem adorns the mighty victors’ brow. So, it is amazing that the best is left to last!

Zizyphus spina-christi Christ’s Thorn Jujube

Collectively known in the original Hebrew text before translations of the bible as Thorn or brier depending on the context. There has been much investigation into this species as it is very widespread in Israel and North Africa, but it has been agreed only last year it originated indeed in the Middle East with some live native specimens found exceeding 2000 years old.

This is a deciduous tree reaching 15 – 20 ft in height with spreading, greyish branches, shiny or slightly hairy. Very sharp spines in pairs, one erect, 1 inch long, the other folded back half inch long, at the base of each leaf. Leaves are egg shaped 2 inches long by 1 inch wide. Fruits are peach like, red yellow to yellow-green with a hard-single stone surrounded by edible fruit pulp, 4 – 12 inches in diameter.

The species Ziziphus spina-christi has been among the key plants of the Middle East and the Sahel region since ancient times. The epithet name ‘spina-christi’ derives from the belief that this tree provided the crown of thorns said to have been placed on Jesus’ head before he was crucified.  It is also interesting to note that this tree is a perennial, drought hardy tree. It is adapted to grow in water-stressed habitats such as savannas and deserts. It is widely cultivated for its fruit, timber and use as fodder for livestock, as well as providing a stock-proof hedge and living fence, but is also used as a dune stabilizer, because of its very deep taproot and spreading lateral roots. Due to its cultivation, it has been introduced to parts of northern and tropical Africa and Madagascar. This tree was introduced to Curacao in the Caribbean, where it is now considered invasive. It has also been introduced to the neighbouring islands of Aruba and Bonaire. This species is an aggressive colonizer that, forms spiny and impenetrable thickets displacing and outcompeting native flora.

I wonder did the Roman guards who made a crown of thorns from this tree, then pushed it into our Saviours’ head as a form of derision as they crucified Him really know the significance of the foliage they had used.  The thing is they were only following orders, and the chants of the crowd, but the person that had that thorny crown pushed into his brow, survived, 6 weeks in the desert for me without food and water and came out the other side. Had wept and groaned in Gethsemane, was betrayed, and hated by his own kind. Yet He still went to the Cross so that ALL the World might be invaded with His Love and compassion because the roots of His love truly run deep and wide. No matter what.

How do I know that? Well the world’s bestselling book of all-time bar none, be it hard copy, digital app, or kindle, or listen to tells me that.

As a boy at Sunday School I used to sing these words:

Jesus Loves me This I Know, For the Bible Tells Me So, Little Ones to Him Belong, They Are Weak, but He Is Strong

Yes, Jesus Loves Me, Yes Jesus Loves Me, Yes Jesus Loves Me, The Bible Tells Me So.

Countries like China, North Korea and Pakistan have banned the Bible I wonder why?