His Head

Many of us may recall from our past that, in many children’s Bible story books, the Lord was depicted as having a halo above His head. In later life we came to appreciate that this was never the case. The Lord was a real man and, as believers, we enjoy the fact of His deity but also His humanity, sin apart. However, there is no scripture that we can turn to that reveals anything of His personal appearance.

His head on a pillow

We commence this study in Mark chapter 4 and, whilst His head is not mentioned, He was in the middle of a storm, ‘in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow’, v. 38. Having had a busy day, it was He who requested that the disciples sail to the other side. In His mind the journey was assured, but, in the boat, He was awakened by their calls of distress and He rebuked the wind and the sea. Remarkably, as the disciples observed, ‘the wind ceased, and there was a great calm’, v. 39. Their reaction is recorded, ‘What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’ v. 41.

Poured upon His head

Our next scene is found in Matthew chapter 26 verses 6 to 13.1 In both Matthew and Mark, the woman is not named but in John’s Gospel, she is named as Mary. It is John that records that she poured the ointment on the Lord’s feet, whilst in the other two accounts she poured it on His head. Whether the ointment was poured first upon His head and trickled down to His feet or not, the point to be emphasized is that nothing was withheld.

Thinking just of Matthew’s account, we might note:

  • Undeserved criticism, ‘this waste’, v. 8;
  • Unprecedented devotion, ‘this ointment’, v. 9; ‘very precious ointment’, v. 7;
  • Universal in scope, ‘this gospel … preached in the whole world’,v. 13;
  • Unidentified individual, ‘this woman’, v. 13.

Placed upon His head

Matthew chapter 27 verse 29 mentions the crown of thorns. They ‘platted a crown of thorns … [and] put it upon his head’.2 Perhaps the soldiers made it themselves and in mockery they said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews’. We are not informed when it was removed but I am sure it was temporary as this was their treatment of such a prisoner – a mock coronation.

We can recall, when our present Queen was crowned on the 2nd June, 1953, the crown was held aloft then carefully placed upon her head. What a contrast here! A crown platted – intertwined with thorns. It was unlikely to be placed carefully on our Lord’s head. John tells us in chapter19 verse 5 of his Gospel that the Lord was brought out arrayed before the people wearing the crown of thorns. Its purpose was to afflict the mind and to cause pain. Matthew and Mark mention that they smote the Lord on His head with a reed.3 With the desire to punish Him further, they did their worst to Him.

Placed over His head

As we consider Calvary itself, Matthew records His accusation ‘set over’ or placed over His head, ‘This is Jesus the king of the Jews’.4 It is John that tells us the reaction of the chief priests, but in this Pilate would not be swayed, ‘What I have written I have written’, 19. 22.

Bowed His head

In three Gospels, we read of the Lord giving up the ghost, but in John’s account we are told that ‘Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished … said, It is finished’, 19. 28, 30. He ‘bowed his head, and gave up the ghost’. This was a deliberate act and He put His head into a position of rest. He who found no rest for His head in His life here, found rest at last.5

About His head

Finally, John chapter 20 verse 7 takes us to the resurrection morning and mention is made of ‘the napkin, that was about his head … but wrapped together in a place by itself’, 20. 7. Why was this folded? In the Hebrew tradition of the day, the folded napkin had to do with the master and the servant. If the master got up from the table, folded his napkin and laid it beside his plate, it meant ‘I’m coming back’. And so He will!

‘O Head, once filled with bruises,
Oppressed with pain and scorn,
O’erwhelmed with sore abuses,
Mocked with a crown of thorn!
O Head, to death once wounded
In shame upon the tree,
In glory now surrounded
With brightest majesty’.
Paul Gerhardt

In a coming day, our Lord will be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords.



Parallel passages are: Mark 14. 3-9; John 12. 1-11.


Parallel passages are: Mark 15. 17; John 19. 2.


Matt. 27. 30; Mark 15. 19.


Matt. 27. 37.


The Lord did say, ‘The Son of man hath not where to lay his head’, Matt. 8. 20; Luke 9. 58.


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