From I Corinthians 15:
“And some will ask, how are the dead raised? With what kind
of body will they come? You
foolish people. What
you sow will not come to life unless it dies.
What you sow is not the body, which is to be.
What you sow is merely a kernel of wheat.
And so it is with the resurrection of the dead.
What is sown in the ground is perishable;
what is raised is imperishable.
It is sown in the ground in dishonor, but it is raised in
glory. It is sown in weakness but it is raised in power.
It is sown a physical body but it is raised a spiritual body.
Physical things like flesh and blood cannot inherit the
kingdom of God.” From Revelation:
“Look, I want to show you a mystery.
We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, in a moment,
in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
The trumpet shall sound, and the dead will be raised
imperishable, and we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye. Death
is swallowed up in victory.”
It is springtime
and soon it will be summertime. It is that time of the year when we
start of think of creepy, crawly caterpillars on the ground.
We have this mental image of a caterpillar creeping slowly
across the concrete. We all have those childhood memories of picking up a
caterpillar and watching it slowly move across our hand, ever so
softly. Time goes by,
and the caterpillar goes into a cool place, a cocoon. They live in
that cocoon for what seems like an eternity for a child, and when
the caterpillar emerges, they have become a beautiful butterfly.
In the Greek language, the word used to describe this is
metamorphosis, a change.
Today, I would like
to share with you a butterfly story.
This is a story from Dr. Kubler Ross and her book, DEATH AND
DYING. There was a
little child, a first grader, who was having trouble at school, and
the teacher felt that she might be having emotional problems.
The child was invited in to talk with a sensitive, empathetic
teacher. The school
started to discover that this little girl was handling enormous
emotional challenges. That
is, her mother was sick in the hospital and had been in the hospital
for two weeks, dying of cancer.
Her father, rather than coming home every night after work,
was now going to the hospital, and so the little girl hadn’t
really seen her dad much during the past two weeks.
The little girl knew that there was something wrong,
something very wrong, because she knew that her father was upset,
and this little girl became upset too. An appointment was arranged
between the school psychologist and the little first grade girl.
The little girl was asked to draw a picture, and so she drew
a picture of a stick figure. The
stick figure had large red legs, and off to the left in a corner was
a very black colored in square. The school counselor looked at the
drawing and said: “Well,
what does this mean, my little friend?”
And the little girl explained that the stick figure was her
mother and that the red legs meant that her mother would never be
able to take her to the park again, that she would never be able to
run again, that she knew her mother’s legs were bleeding.
“And what is that black square in the corner?” the
counselor asked? The
black square in the corner is the dining room table, and it is
turned upside down. Mommy
and I will not be able to eat with each other again.” The
counselor said to the little girl:
“You know that your mother is dying, don’t you?”
The little girl said, “Yes.”
The psychologist asked, “Would you like to talk about
it?” And the little
girl began to talk about the death of her mother.
Towards the close of the conversation, Dr. Ross said to her,
“Well, what it’s going to be like is this:
your mother will go into a cocoon and someday your mother
will be like a butterfly.” And
the little girl smiled and said, “Oh, that’s wonderful that my
mother will be like a butterfly, but butterflies fly away, and I
don’t want my mother to fly away from me.”
The psychologist was sad about that.
The next day, the counselor asked, “Would you like to go
and see your mother in the hospital?” The little girl, who hadn’t been to the hospital yet, said
“yes” and so the
next day they went and picked some daffodils and went to the
hospital. The little girl looked into the room; she hadn’t seen her
mother for such a long time. She
was afraid of hospitals, but that didn’t stop her from running
into the room and giving her mother a big kiss and those daffodils.
She whispered into her mother’s ear, “Mother, you are
going to become like a butterfly.”
The mother said, “I know.
I know.” And the mother hugged her little girl, smiled and
cried. … The next day, this little girl went to her first grade.
There was show and tell time and she told all the children at school
that her mother was going to be in a cocoon and would soon then be
like a butterfly. And
all the children were sad, but glad that her mother was going to be
like butterfly but worried that butterflies fly away.
And such was the story of what happened in the life of Dr.
The purpose of
Easter is the victory celebration that tells of the Power of God
that took the dead body of Jesus of Nazareth and transformed him,
metamorphosed him, transfigured him into a glorious resurrection
body. The purpose of
Easter is God telling the Truth that God can create life out of
apparent death. The
purpose of Easter is to convince us that creepy, crawly caterpillars
become transformed into butterflies.
The purpose of Easter is to convince us that not only are
there miracles in nature but that there are miracles in history, in
your history and mine. The
purpose of Easter is to convince us that there will be a time in our
lives when we too shall be transformed into something utterly
magnificent and beautiful. The
purpose of Easter is to tell us of those good and glorious promises
of God who has the power to take that which is dead and transform it
Today, on this
lovely spring day, I wanted to go looking for caterpillars but I
knew I couldn’t find any at this time of year, but I did find
plenty of daffodil flowers, with their bright smiling yellow faces.
So early this morning, I went out and dug up a daffodil from
beneath its root bulb, and here it is with all its dirty glory!
Have you ever seen a daffodil bulb and someone exclaim how
beautiful the bulb is? Have
you even taken some daffodil bulbs and gone into your house and
arranged them into lovely bouquet of bulbs in a vase?
No, of course not. How
ridiculous. Indeed, we
would have to say that there is no comparison between the brown,
dirtied bulb and the transformed, exquisite beauty of the daffodil
flower. They don’t look at all alike.
It is indeed a miracle that God has worked by transforming
the plain brown bulb into this marvelous daffodil.
And so it is that the great goods, the good news, of Easter
is obvious: that God
transforms bulbs into daffodils, that God transforms caterpillars
into butterflies, that God transformed the dead body of Jesus into a
living spiritual body, and that God will transform your human body,
like a seed planted into the ground, into a resurrection, spiritual
body. This is no big
deal for God. God does
this a million times a day, transforming that which appears to be
dead into a new glorious life.
And equally true,
Easter is an invitation for us to believe like a child, to have
childlike faith that this is true. Dr. Kubler-Ross told the little
first grade girl that your mother will become like a butterfly, and
the little girl simply believed her.
With a simple, naïve faith, she simply believed it was true,
that her mother would become like a butterfly.
And so Easter is an invitation for us to believe like
children, simply and naively to believe that God works great
miracles, transforming caterpillars into butterflies, bulbs into
daffodils, earthy physical bodies into everlasting spiritual bodies.
and we are no longer children.
We are no longer children but we have become adults.
As an adult, it is no longer easy to trust like a child
anymore. It is no
longer easy to think simply. It
is no longer easy to think naively.
As adults, we want more words.
We want more than pretty promises of paradise.
If only we had proof. If
only we had some proof of life after death, some proof that the
pretty promises of paradise were true, then we would believe.
If only there was some conclusive evidence, some brilliant
insights, some direct confirmation of the next life, then we may
naively believe like a child again who believes in butterflies.
… And so we look for proofs of life after death.
We might read a book by Dr. Raymond Moody entitled, LIFE
AFTER LIFE. Dr. Moody
examined and interviewed 150 people who were diagnosed as clinically
dead and then came back to life and all had seen that light.
They were no longer afraid of death, but saw death as a
friend, and were willing to die again to be absorbed into that
inviting, pulsating light. For
us adults, maybe that is proof.
Maybe if that is true, then perhaps we will believe as
children again. We want
some additional proofs because way deep down inside, we don’t
quite trust the goodness of God’s promises.
And so we ask the
question: why didn’t
Jesus prove his resurrection? Why didn’t he? If I were
God, that is what I would have done.
I wouldn’t have messed around with anybody, and I would
have done it the following way:
I would have built myself a big Kingdome in Jerusalem and
would have invited 65,000 to the Kingdome to fill it up, just like
for a Seahawks football game. I
would have had Jesus up there in front in resurrected form, and I
would have had close up cameras scanning his whole body real slowly.
And I would have had instant replay cameras at work, showing
the best angles of vision. And
I would have had those re-plays play over and over again the most
revealing perspectives on his body, so I could prove to all those
65,000 that Jesus Christ was no longer dead but in a living body.
That’s what I would have done, if I were God.
I would have proved it to everybody.
… Or, if I were God, I would have Jesus be raised from the
dead at the medical school in his area, at Pergama, and I would have
taken every doctor and every physician and every atheist and every
skeptic and every cynic, and I would have taken them to that medical
school, and I would have had Jesus there.
And they could have taken out their scalpels and their knives
and they would have sliced right through his resurrection, spiritual
body, and then they would have believed. That’s what I would have done if I were God.
I would have made Jesus’ resurrection happen so that there
would be no choice but to believe. I would have proven it, without a doubt.
But, thank heavens,
I am not God. Never has God in God’s wisdom so clearly shown himself as
to prove his existence. God
has never so clearly shown himself
as to prove that God exists.
God has never so clearly shown himself to prove the
resurrection of Jesus. That would be very inconsistent of God to prove the
resurrection when God had never proved his existence or his presence
or his miracles or anything. Ultimately,
God wants us to experience the power of belief, to believe naively
like children. To trust
that God is good. To
trust that God exists. To
trust that God makes caterpillars transform into butterflies.
To trust that we too shall be transformed at the twinkling of
an eye from an earthly body into a heavenly body. O yes, God gives
us evidences. God gives
us plenty of evidence of his existence. You look all around you and
you experience the evidences of God.
God gives us the cherry blossoms of spring, the patterned
complexity of creation, the oceans, the mountains, the daffodils.
God gives us the resurrection stories of the Bible, the
miracles in the Bible and our own lives.
God gives us countless witnesses of highly intelligent people
who naively believe in the spiritual world inside them, around them,
and a spiritual world that lives outside of time and space. God
gives us Dr. Raymond Moody and life after life. But…after you have studied all of your evidences, if you
believe in God’s power to create life out of apparent death, it is
because…you believe. It
is because you have become like a child and simply believe in
God’s good promises of eternal life, and you simply believe that
God will be faithful to those promises in death, as God has been so
faithful to you in life.
I would like to
tell you one more butterfly story.
There was a caterpillar crawling across a Persian carpet, a
Persian rug. And the
caterpillar crawled for what he thought was seventy-five years.
He was just crawling all over that Persian rug, but he could
see only one color at a time. He saw first the blues, and then the oranges, the yellows,
the reds, the purples, the deep violets, the greens. He saw one
color at a time and said: “O, what a beautiful world I am on.
Look at all that color!”
He lived for what he thought was a very long time, 50, 60,
70, 80 years, a blink in God’s time but long for the caterpillar.
And finally, he crawled off the Persian carpet and he became a
cocoon. He became a
cocoon and hibernated. Although
he didn’t realize it, the cocoon was part of the miracle, and then
there was another miracle and he came out of the cocoon as a
butterfly, a monarch butterfly. He fluttered up higher and higher
and higher and he looked down at the Persian rug for the first time
and saw it in its total magnificent splendor.
What a sight he saw. For
the first time in his existence, he saw the meaning of his whole
life; he saw the past and the present like he had never seen it
before. … And Jesus
said, “Those who have ears to hear, listen to the meaning of this
Easter is inviting
us to believe in the Powers of God to create magnificent new life,
to believe the miracle that God transforms caterpillars into
butterflies, to believe the miracle that God transforms earthy
bodies into heavenly bodies. Easter
is the invitation to believe as children because maybe it is only
children who understand the miracles of God.