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The whole head is injured…

~ Isaiah 1:5, NIV

To the sailors aboard the Tarshish-bound vessel, Jonah was a headache. Inside the large sea creature, the wayward prophet suffered one. Jonah’s skull pounded as if being crushed. The depths to which his rebellion had flung him would have done that to any human being.

In great torment, Jonah cried out to God in his distress.[1] And in this he foreshadowed another sign of Jonah that the Messiah would fulfill.[2]

We have spent the last two blog posts discussing Jonah’s anguish and what type of crown Jesus most likely wore.[3] [4] The obvious question to ask: why is it important?

Follow along as we ponder Christ’s Passion.

  • The thorns used for the crown were not the garden-variety of briars on rose bushes.

Although such pricks are painful, they weren’t the sorts of thorns the Romans had laying around in Palestine.

Most believe the thorns were from the Zizyphus spina christa. This creeper was common to the Judean landscape, and the people of that day used them as kindling for fires. Thus, the Romans would have buckets of these in the area of Jesus’ trial and abuse. They didn’t have to look around for something to shape into a crown. The material was available.

  • These thorns bear long spikes that are like wooden ice-picks.

Their sharp points are like long needles, capable of penetrating deeply into human flesh. They would be far more menacing than most splinters we’ve suffered.

  • A full-headed crown of thorns would have covered the entire scalp, ears, and forehead.

Due to the extensive vascularity of the face and skull, profuse bleeding would pour from the punctured flesh.

  • Experts have projected as many as seventy such wounds resulted.

Imagine the agony of seventy darts being rammed into the head. Then remember that they struck the Savior with a rod, nailing those prongs further into His skull. And most likely they bound them in place with plaited vines, such as sea rushes.

  • It was agony upon agony. But it was a far greater woe than we realize.

A forensic pathologist theorized Jesus suffered trigeminal neuralgia.[5] This condition is more excruciating than any other type of headache. Most experts consider it to be one of the most painful illnesses a human can suffer.

  • The trigeminal nerve is a main nerve trunk that traverses on each side of a person’s head.

A full-headed crown would cover the areas where these nerves lie. The multiple stab wounds from such a thorny diadem could pierce these nerves in many places, inducing severe pain along the affected pathways.

  • The trigeminal nerve carries pain fibers to the scalp, the forehead, the eyes, the ears, the face, the jaw, the nose, and the mouth.

Now consider the malady one has to endure if all of these areas are in extreme pain – at the same time. Our Savior had to endure such torture.

  • What would result would be more excruciating than any migraine.

It’d be more pressure than any sinus headache. More piercing than any earache. More pounding than any other in the eyes. More throbbing than any toothache. More spasms in locked jaws than temporal-mandibular joint pain (or, TMJ).

Combine every type of headache, and that’s what you get. An unbearable anguish most never could imagine.

Light would only exacerbate the misery. Wind and temperature change would make being outside devastating. The nostrils would drain. The eyes would water. The mouth would drool. The ears might bleed from the strain.

  • Even worse, it wouldn’t end until He died.

Now, consider what Isaiah foretold about Christ’s suffering to come: the whole head is injured.[6] A full-headed crown causing a trigeminal headache would fulfill Isaiah’s picture of what sin had done to those who suffer its penalty.

This was another sign of Jonah that the people of Jesus’ day probably didn’t understand. But it’s one that modern medicine, oceanography, and forensic pathology enable us to see. It should be another sign to our generation of how deeply He suffered to pay for the sin that weighed us down.

We were the cause of His headache. If we reject His sacrifice for us, we contribute to His heartache as well…


[1] Jonah 2:1-9.

[2] Luke 11:29-32.

[3] J. Shan Young, “Pressure Headache,”, 05/03/2012.

[4] J. Shan Young, “The Lord of the Ring?”, 05/05/2012.

[5] Frederick T. Zugibe, The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry (New York: M. Evans and Company, Inc., 2005), 33-34.

[6] Isaiah 1:5, NIV.