Monarch Butterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us. (Source: Target ICSE)

Metamorphosis: The transformation that takes place inside the chrysalis from caterpillar to adult butterfly.

Life Cycle of a Butterfly

Butterflies go through four stages in life that are considered to be great mysteries. They are real survivors even with life’s many twists and turns. Butterflies have been able to adapt and make it through unimaginable obstacles. Butterflies are holometabolous, experiencing a complete metamorphosis, or in other words, a complete change in body form. They begin life as an egg, then into larva or caterpillar and pupate into an immobile state and emerge as a butterfly, looking nothing like their pre-pupated state.   It is in pupate stage that “death” occurs.  The chrysalis is like the grave wherein the caterpillar experience “death-like” disintegration and corruption. The process inside the chrysalis is very intense. The insect’s body basically is liquefied by digestive fluids and the body is restructured using specialized formative cells. This process is called histogenesis, in which undifferentiated cells are used to build different body tissues. Thus the really amazing and marvelous metamorphosis occurs as the caterpillar  go through the process of histogenesis.

A Stalk of Grains of Wheat

A grain of wheat germinating

Jesus used an astonishing allegory in nature as a symbolic representation of his imminent death. He said in John 12:24 (ESV):  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  The illustration is a beautiful comparison. The whole body or substance of the grain, except the germ, dies in the earth or is decomposed, and this decomposed substance constitutes the first nourishment of the tender germ a nutriment wonderfully adapted to it, and fitted to nourish it until it becomes vigorous enough to derive its support entirely from the ground. All the beauty and richness of the harvest results from the fact that the grain had died. If it had not died it would never have germinated or produced the glory of the yellow harvest. So with him.  Jesus intimates that it was only by his death that he would be glorified for the salvation of men.  By this he still keeps before them the truth that he was to be glorified, but he delicately and beautifully introduces the idea still that he must die.  In this God has shown his wisdom and goodness. No one thing could be more evidently fitted for another than this provision made in the grain itself for the future wants of the tender germ.

So by these two wonders of nature that of a butterfly undergoing the process of transformation and the grain of wheat falling and dying in the ground both illustrate that really DEATH is the pathway to life.  That one must die in order to live again.

Before our conversion, we were “dead in sins.”  True conversion is death of the old self which is corrupt through deceitful desires.  When, a converted sinner, he gives himself up to God sin dies within him, and he becomes dead to the world, and to sin.  Such “death” is a precursor to a resurrection to a new life in Christ.

Conversion takes place when the individual realizes that God, instead, should be placed at the center of his/her life.  The sinful self which remains locked and centered in itself, unable to enter into loving relationships with others, must be shattered in the very center of its being through confrontation with the power and holiness of God. Finally aware of its true source and center, the self which trusted only itself must be ‘crucified with Christ’ and destroyed.

The apostle Paul said in Gal 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. And he also wrote in Rom 6:6  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

We no longer should live the rest of our time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God and live according to God in the spirit.  We should die spiritually to self in order that we might live to God.  That is dying to live.  In order that we may live eternally, we must go through death spiritually.  

The fact that there is future resurrection of the dead when Christ comes attest to the reality of death being the last enemy to be destroyed.  Paul wrote in 1Co 15:20  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23  But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

Surely death ushers us into the kingdom of God.  Death, indeed,  is the pathway to eternal life!