As a butterfly soared overhead, one caterpillar said to the other, "You'll never get me up in one of those things."
Yet for every caterpillar the time comes when the urge to eat and grow subsides and he instinctively begins to form a chrysalis around himself. The chrysalis hardens and you'd think for all the world that the caterpillar is dead.
But one spring morning the life inside the chrysalis begins to writhe, the top cracks open, and a beautifully formed butterfly emerges. For hours it will stand stretching and drying its wings, moving them slowly up and down, up and down. And then, before you know it, the butterfly glides aloft, effortlessly riding the currents of the air, alighting on flower after gorgeous flower, as if to show off its vivid colors to the bright blossoms.
Somehow, the miracle of the butterfly never loses its fascination for us. Perhaps because the butterfly is a living parable of the promise of resurrection.
On Easter morning the disciples saw Jesus' grave clothes lying on the cold slab still wrapped round and round the corpse. Only the corpse was gone, much like an empty chrysalis deserted by a butterfly who has left to soar free. "He is risen as He said," an angel told the incredulous disciples. Later that day he appeared to the disciples, and then, over the course of the next few weeks, to as many as five hundred people at one time. Even "Doubting Thomas" didn't doubt for long that Jesus was really risen from the dead.
A few weeks ago, I lost a friend who had become dear to me. Where she had been so full of life, now her body lay still, composed ever-so-carefully by the morticians. I looked at her and thought about my own mortality. One day I too, like her, may fight a losing battle with pain, and die.
What do we Christians say in the face of death? There are many mysteries. But two things we know for sure. First, death is an enemy. Away with the sentimentality that vainly seeks to disguise death's insult! But second, and more important, Jesus' resurrection from the grave is God's proof to us that death is not the end. The empty tomb and Jesus' Spirit within us testify that Easter morning is God's triumph over death. And ultimately, Jesus promised, God will raise from the dead us who believe in His Son.
Why do Christians gather on Easter morning? To show off their fine clothes or give a ritual tip of the hat to religion? God forbid! Rather we gather to celebrate Jesus' victory over death itself. For since 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.
Join us this Easter as we celebrate Life!
And if you look closely Easter morning, you might even see a butterfly alight on the lilies.
by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson