Last week I shared seven reasons why a beautiful butterfly is an amazing proof of our God as Creator. From the butterfly’s beauty to its adaptation to its environment, we see God’s perfect design.
The butterfly has an incredible “voice.” It’s lifecycle is not only a revelation of God’s perfect design, it is also a “proclamation” of God’s perfect plan of redemption.
To explain this, I am sharing an excerpt from my book, Why the Butterfly? This book isn’t about butterflies, it’s all about Jesus. It’s a book about the importance of remembering….specifically, remembering who God is, what He has done for us and who we are in Christ. In chapter 8 I tell the story of the butterfly. A butterfly is a beautiful “call to remembrance” of the gospel. I believe the butterfly is second only to man in its amazing ability to “tell” the world who God is, and to remind us of the transformation only God can work in His fallen creation.
The magnificent butterfly, whispers God’s name with every flutter of its wings.
Why the Butterfly? by Shari Abbott, Chapter 8
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2)
THE BUTTERFLY has long been recognized as a symbol of resurrection and hope. In the life cycle of a butterfly, we get a beautiful illustration of all phases of a redeemed person’s life. Every butterfly goes through four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa (or chrysalis) and adult butterfly. This process of development is called metamorphosis.
The Butterfly’s Lifecycle
From Egg to Caterpillar
The life-cycle begins when the adult female lays her eggs on the underside of a leaf. This leaf will later become a source of food for the caterpillar. The egg hatches into a larva, or caterpillar, looking very much like a worm. Interestingly, in Psalm 22 David likens man to a worm. And Jesus, when speaking of the unredeemed in eternal torment, three times said, “where their worm dieth not…” (Mark 9:44, 46, 48).
This worm-like creature, the caterpillar, crawls on plants, dependent on the earth’s vegetation for its sustenance and existence. Similarly, this can be likened to people who have an earthly perspective, rather than a heavenly perspective. The lowly, worm-like caterpillar reminds us of those who “feed” on earthly provisions, seeking to fulfill worldly desires and obtain temporal possessions. Caterpillars eat continuously and voraciously — another parallel to man’s appetite for worldly gain, which will never fully satisfy the soul.
The next phase of a caterpillar’s life begins as it attaches itself upside down to a twig. The caterpillar sheds its skin, growing in its place a pupa or chrysalis. chrysalis. While many call this a cocoon, a cocoon is a silk case that moths, and sometimes other insects, spin around the pupa. This butterfly’s chrysalis clearly resembles a type of entombment. Paralleling this, in ancient times, dead bodies were wrapped in burial cloths and then buried or entombed. The swaddling of the body, in preparation for burial, is pictorially similar to the chrysalis “wrapping” of the caterpillar. We read of Jesus’ body being prepared in this way for burial:
And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. (Mark 15:46)
Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. (John 19:40)
Inside the well-sealed chrysalis, the caterpillar does not feed and does not appear to be alive. But in this phase, a transformation is occurring—the caterpillar is being transformed into a butterfly by a process called metamorphosis. In the next stage, the butterfly emerges from the confinement of its chrysalis into the world, wet and with soft wings. Before it can fly, the butterfly must rest, allowing its body to dry and its wings to harden. Then it takes flight, living the remainder of its life cycle between the earth and heaven and feeding on some of God’s most beautiful creations — flowering plants.
As Christians, we also have gone through a metamorphosis. Beginning as an earthly worm (Job 25:6), followed by a death to self and a resurrection to new life in Christ (Romans 6:4-5, Galatians 2:20). Just as God rested after creation and just as rest is necessary for the butterfly after its new birth, an important first step in our walk with the Lord is to learn to rest, or abide, in Christ (John 15:4-11). Just as this rest is necessary for the butterfly’s wings to dry and harden before it begins to fly, our abiding in Christ is necessary to strengthen us in our Christian walk.
A Christian’s life begins with a metamorphosis, from death-to-self into eternal life in Christ, but it is also an ongoing process of transformation. Paul speaks very clearly of this:
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)
The Greek word for transformed used in Romans 12:2, is metamorphoo, from which we get metamorphosis. Understand the distinction Paul is making here. Being conformed, as in his reference to this world, is something that takes place from the outside, in. Being transformed (metamorphoo) is a change that takes place from the inside, out. This word, metamorphoo, is also used in Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2 when Christ was transfigured and shone in all His glory, appearing to Peter, James, and John.
Paul also speaks of our final metamorphosis, our final transformation when Christ returns, our bodily resurrection:
Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed [metamorphoo] into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
The butterfly is a beautiful reminder of victory in Christ. Symbolically it proclaims victory over sin and death, and resurrection to new life by our only true Hope, Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, we have reconciliation and restoration with God the Father. In His High Priestly Prayer of John 17, Jesus prayed, “…that they may be one as we are one…” (John 17:11, 22) and “that they may be one in us…” (John 17:21). We have the unity that the Lord prayed for and secured for us.
REMEMBER that and keep looking up, for our blessed Hope is coming (Titus 2:13). Oh, what a glorious day that will be! And, the next time you see a butterfly, REMEMBER, you have been transformed by Christ and you are being conformed to His image (Romans 8:29). On that glorious day, you will “fly” to be with Him forever! Our bodily resurrection has been promised by Him and He is Faithful and True.
Therefore, remember and be confident. . .that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6)
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,
it became a butterfly.
That’s why the butterfly is my favorite evidence of God’s glory in creation. It’s because it causes me to remember all that He has done in the world of creation…and, most important, all that He has done in re-creating me from the “worm” that I was to the “butterfly” He always intended me to be.
In the chrysalis, the caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly. Before God saved me, I was wrapped in a “world” of darkness, a hard shell like a chrysalis. I was saved at a young age so I didn’t fully understand or see just how dark the darkness was, but God in His mercy brought me into the light through the metamorphosis of regeneration by His Holy Spirit.
The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted. (Psalm 18:46)
Just as God designed the caterpillar to be transformed into a new creature, He offers new life to all who will trust in Jesus. Tell a “caterpillar” today how they can become a beautiful “butterfly,” transformed by the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ.
Excerpt from: Why the Butterfly? A Book About Rightly Remembering Jesus,
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