Posts Tagged ‘Resurrection’

THE PARABLE OF THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR © Ross Cochrane

What a timeless classic children’s story is the Very Hungry Caterpillar written by Eric Carle, which we loved reading to our children and grandchildren.

Very Hungry Caterpillar

When thinking about my Easter message this year I thought what better illustration by way of a parable to consider the truths of God’s Word regarding Christ’s death and resurrection.

Eric Carle begins his story by saying, “In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.” How amazing is this egg, fixed to the leaf with a very special rubbery substance which soon sets solid?

  1. GRACE

In our parable, this little egg represents you and me, and God has created and protected you and me for a purpose. We love chocolate eggs at Easter but this is not a chocolate egg, and this egg is not to be devoured and forgotten. It is an entirely different kind of egg.

Like this tiny egg, you may feel small and insignificant in the scheme of things, but Psalm 139 says that God is intimately acquainted with all your ways”. King David says in that Psalm, “I will give thanks to You (Lord), for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well…  lead me in the everlasting way.”

GOD CREATED YOU FOR A PURPOSE.

Eric Carle’s story continues, “One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and – pop! – out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry Caterpillar.”

He started to look for some food. I’m so HUNGRY!, he said. On Monday he ate through 1 apple. But he was still hungry. 

On Tuesday he ate through 2 pears, but he was still hungry. 

On Wednesday he ate through 3 plums, but he was still hungry. 

On Thursday he ate through 4 strawberries, but he was still hungry.

On Friday he ate through 5 oranges, but he was still hungry.

On Saturday he ate through 1 piece of chocolate cake, 1 icecream cone, 1 pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, 1 slice of salami, 1 lollipop, 1 piece of cherry pie, 1 sausage, 1 cupcake, And 1 slice of watermelon.

That night he had a stomach-ache!

The very hungry caterpillar then ate through one green leaf. He started to feel better.

Caterpillar on leaf morguefile

Now, the caterpillar was no longer small. He was a big, fat caterpillar.

(In the interests of the parable about Easter, I have added to the story,)

“He thought that he was born into this world simply to crawl in the dirt and gorge himself with the leaves of plants.

All he had done was eat and look after himself with no real concerns about anything else. He didn’t know that he was created for another purpose. The ugly, hungry caterpillar didn’t realize the possibility of TRANSFORMATION.

The Bible says we are like that Caterpillar, but we are created for more than simply survival. We may even feel that we are big in the eyes of the world, but God has offered us the possibility of Resurrection life. Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). And Romans 3:20 says that “The gift of God is Eternal life.”

  1. SIN

WHAT STOPS US FROM LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL AND RECEIVING THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE?

“It wasn’t always easy for the Caterpillar. He had to be careful of predators like spiders and wasps and one time a bird tried to eat him but he camouflaged himself on a leaf.”  

Like that Caterpillar, there is a Predator in our life that stops us from living life to the full, the life for which we are created. The predator we face is SATAN. We live in a sinful world and commit personal sin.

Caterpillars may make use of camouflage to evade their predators, but very few eggs and caterpillars survive. Unlike the Caterpillar, you can’t hide from the results of sin. The Bible says “The Wages of Sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose (Satan’s purpose) is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give you a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10 NLT)

Now you may have accepted this grub kind of existence and think that you are destined to crawl around and eat whatever the world throws at you, trying to avoid sin and death, thinking that there’s nothing you can do about your lot in life, and your RIGHT.

WE CAN’T DO ANYTHING TO SAVE OURSELVES, … but GOD CAN AND DID…

  1. GOD

The good news is that the Bible says that God has made you for so much more. Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish INFINITELY MORE than we might ask or think.”

SO HOW DO WE RECEIVE WHAT GOD OFFERS?

“The Caterpillar was fully grown now and didn’t want another bite. In fact, he was so tired of all the hard work of eating and trying to keep away from predators that he began to wander around for a while not really knowing what to do. He WANTED A CHANGE. He longed for something MORE but didn’t know what it was. He decided to build a small house, called a cocoon around himself. He stayed inside for quite some time.”

Like the Caterpillar, we have to find that place of spiritual rest where we can reflect and begin to see the need in our life and desire something more. Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST” (Matt. 11:28). It’s only when we trust in Jesus that a miracle on the inside occurs.

 “And something happened on the inside. As he rested, an AMAZING TRANSFORMATION began to take place. Most of the tissues and cells in his body began to break down completely. In effect, his body died except for some tiny cells that were ACTIVATED.

Those cells began to use the nutrients of the Caterpillar in such a way that he was BORN AGAIN INTO SOMETHING COMPLETELY NEW. It was a miracle. He was born again.

When the transformation was complete, he could hardly wait to see himself. He nibbled a small hole in the cocoon, pushed his way out and… “

(At this point I released a butterfly from a small box. He stayed on my finger for a while and then flew into the audience only to land on someone else) 

Butterfly Morguefile

“… A BEAUTIFUL BUTTERFLY emerged. He spent an hour basking in the sun to dry out his new wings and then as the wind lifted him, he took flight. He glided aloft, fluttering and riding the currents of the air, alighting on flower after flower, tasting the nectar and ‘showing off his vivid colors to the vibrancy of the blossoms.’ 

HE THOUGHT, THIS IS WHAT I WAS TRULY CREATED FOR.”

  1. CHRIST

THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS SPIRITUALLY TO US WHEN WE GIVE OUR LIVES TO JESUS AND TRUST OURSELVES TO HIM.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, HE IS A NEW CREATION; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”

  1. FAITH

THE BUTTERFLY SYMBOLISES BEING BORN AGAIN.

In John 3:6-8 Jesus says, “Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be BORN AGAIN.’

The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are BORN OF THE SPIRIT.”

There is much more to life than what we now see and what you may have accepted. And there is hope beyond the grave.

The parable of the very Hungry Caterpillar reminds me of the hunger every person has on the inside for relationship with God. When we trust in Christ, something new is activated from within. Our old life is gone but nothing is wasted. In His hands, we are made new, with a new life. We are a new creation.

The Bible says God became a man but without sin. The Bible says He paid the penalty for our sin by dying on the Cross for us. He was laid in a tomb.

BUT EASTER DOESN’T STOP AT THE CROSS, … OR AT THE TOMB …

The story of the Cocoon and Crysalis reminds me that on Sunday Morning after Jesus had been crucified and taken to the grave, the disciples came to the tomb and saw JESUS’ GRAVECLOTHES lying there, much like an EMPTY CHRYSALIS. An angel told the startled disciples. “HE IS RISEN,”

(At this point in my message I released 15 other butterflies into the audience)

Why do we have this Easter service? To go through the ritual? Not at all! Rather we gather to celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death itself. He is our Lord and our Savior, His Victory is our victory. In celebrating His resurrection we celebrate our own assurance of ULTIMATE TRIUMPH OVER DEATH.

YOU CAN BE BORN AGAIN BY PUTTING YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST.

Let’s pray this prayer together. It is for all of you who would like to know for certain that you are born again and that you have eternal life. 

Lord God, thankyou that You have created me for much more than I can even imagine. Thankyou for creating a hunger in me for spiritual truth. Thankyou Lord Jesus, for dying for my sins. Thankyou for rising again so that I too could have new life. 

Come into my life, Lord Jesus. Make me a new creation. I am under Your authority. I am in Your hands. I spread my wings, and fly to You, 

Amen. 

Pastor Ross

Related Posts

see also

http://www.joyfulheart.com/easter/buterfly.htm

The Parable of The Butterfly

 

 

Matthew 17:8-9 – A DIFFICULT THING TO TALK ABOUT

In His Hand. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge.org and MorgueFile.com

In His Hand. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge.org and MorgueFile.com

I just realised I believe in the most extraordinary things. I have just read about Jesus shining like the sun, Elijah and Moses returning to a mountain and God speaking from a bright cloud. Bizarre! Even more bizarre; I believe it. All of it. I really do. I believe that it actually happened on a mountain witnessed by Peter, James and John and when it was all over, they saw that it was only Jesus that remained.

I found myself praying this morning when I read about these amazing events. “It seems a little unusual to say that “when they looked, they saw only Jesus” (Matthew 17:8 NLT). So often I only see my circumstances and not always You, Lord. But here, this morning, in my study when I look I see only You and Your glory rather than be distracted by the commonplace, the routine, the unremarkable things of my life. 

As I begin this day, I need Your touch and Your Word to empower me. Let the past fade (Moses and the law) and the future find it’s way (Elijah and the prophets) but today I would see only You. Like the blind man You put Your spit mixed with dirt in my eyes and I open them to see the Light of the world (John 9:5). Only You. 

Sometimes I find it is difficult to put my faith into words and share what has happened to me. Peter, James and John must have wanted to say something but what do you say to people after seeing Moses and Elijah returned after a 1000 years and hearing the voice of God from a cloud, in the presence of Jesus shining like the sun? 

What do you say? Do you speak about the reality of an afterlife? Of spirits of the saints returned? Of how we are eternal beings? Do you talk about resurrection one day when we will have resurrection bodies? Do you talk about the end of the law of Moses and the fulfilment of prophecies in Christ? Do you talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus? Do you talk about what it means to encounter Christ in all His majesty? Do you talk about the presence of Christ being the most important thing in your life? Will people think I am crazy? Probably. It’s difficult to talk about. 

It doesn’t surprise me that as You go down the mountain that You command them “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead” (Matthew 17:9 NLT). 

After the resurrection that’s what Peter did. He had to preface what he said by saying he wasn’t making it up. How do you start to tell of such an event? Peter did his best in 2 Peter 1:16-21 (NLT); “For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw His majestic splendour with our own eyes when He received honour and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to Him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy.” We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.”   

Timing is always important to You, Lord. There is a right time to share the gospel message. I can only share it when the person to whom You lead me is ready to receive the truth about who You are. It’s knowing the redemptive moment. Even then the miraculous transformation that takes place in a person’s life when they come to know You is difficult to explain. And how do I explain some of the most extraordinary things that I believe from Your Word? I can only trust that the Spirit of God will reveal His truth (John 16:13)”.

As I read my Bible He speaks to me. As I pray He speaks to me. It is almost audible. And today I can’t help but think of you, reading my blog. Forget the intrusions from the past for a moment. Forget your anxieties or plans about the future. Alone with only Jesus. It seems to me that He is also speaking to you, inviting you to that place of secure trust in Him. 

Pastor Ross

Part 14 – Matthew 12:38-41 – THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL!

3 Days and Nights

A few days ago, my good friend Joe (not his real name) was taken to hospital after the antibiotics that he was taking didn’t appear to be making a discernable difference. He deteriorated quickly and after a few days, he was just a skeleton lying in bed, fighting for each breath.

I drove to work on Thursday still pleading to the Lord for a MIRACLE of healing but Joe had died around 2 am that morning, Thursday 5 November 2010 at only 91 years of age. I know that seems OLD to you, but he wasn’t. Good mates are AGELESS. He was someone I loved, a man with a deep faith, a good friend. Heaven rejoices and I am happy for him too but there is an empty space inside which tugs at my heart because I will miss him. Where was my miracle?

When the Pharisees challenge Jesus to show them a sign in Matthew 12:39-40 (NLT) it is NOT in order to see someone they LOVE HEALED, or to see people they CARE ABOUT RESTORED. They want theatrics, a circus show, for Jesus to jump through a hoop at their bidding. They have NO COMPASSION for the healing of a demonised blind man who has been unable to speak and NO CONCERN for the man with a deformed hand who was totally restored. They want DEATH to their enemies – a bolt of lightning to DESTROY the Roman oppressors or at the very least someone to lead an UPRISING. Where was their miracle?

Jesus sees right through them. He says “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet JONAH.”

What on earth has JONAH got to do with the Pharisees asking for a sign, or for that matter Joe? Well, Jesus goes on to explain, “For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” His powerful words in Matthew 12:41(NLT) still ring in my ears – “The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they REPENTED of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone GREATER than Jonah is here – but you refuse to repent.”

The Pharisees want a SIGN, a miracle, to prove that Jesus is from God. Jesus seems to be saying “You have all the signs you need in the Old Testament Scriptures already and they all lead to Me!” He doesn’t mess around with their bad attitudes or get DISTRACTED from the essentials. He leads them to the GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL.

When I think of the story of Jonah I think of the miracle of him being SWALLOWED by a fish and surviving for 3 days and nights. And since that is a picture of the RESURRECTION of Jesus, I want to get into working out the details of how these 3 days and nights fit in with when Jesus’ died. How was it 3 days AND 3 nights?

But it seems to me I can miss the forest for the trees if I’m not careful. The MATHEMATICS of the resurrection is not the REAL EMPHASIS of this passage. Jonah’s resurrection from the fish was a great sign, but the GREATEST MIRACLE, however, according to Jesus, is the MIRACLE OF REPENTANCE AND FORGIVENESS! A whole generation of Ninevites REPENTED because of Jonah’s message. That’s the intention of God. To see people FORGIVEN AND RESTORED to Him! Jesus, on the other hand, is faced with people who “REFUSE to repent” (Matthew 12:41).

My friend Joe knew THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL. He knew the forgiveness that comes from believing in Christ as Lord and Saviour. He leaves a LEGACY OF FAITH. His legacy is a family who has come to love and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jonah says “I knew that you are a MERCIFUL AND COMPASSIONATE GOD, SLOW TO GET ANGRY AND FILLED WITH UNFAILING LOVE. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.”

God hasn’t changed. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “The Lord …does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” He loves us as we are but loves us too much to leave us that way. He wants us to respond to Him, to trust in Christ, to experience THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL – FORGIVENESS and a life changed forever. The invitation He gives is to us; to participate in the MIRACLE OF REPENTANCE.

Pastor Ross