“Miss Oldcastle told me once that she could not take her eyes off a butterfly that was flitting about in the church all the time I was speaking of the resurrection of the dead. I told the people that in Greek there was one word for the soul and for a butterfly—psyche; The butterfly is the type in nature, and made to the end, amongst other ends, of being such a type--of the resurrection of the human body.” —George MacDonald
Butterflies begin as caterpillars, though some would insist that they begin as butterflies, evoking the ancient enigma of the chicken and the egg. Generally, however, we think first of the caterpillar, those homely, creepy—crawly, earth-bound worms with which little boys tease and torment little girls. How can these paragons of unsightliness—caterpillars that is; not little boys—become objects of winged, luminous splendor?
Paul writes, “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself (Philippians 3:20,21).
We too, like caterpillars, must enter into death, for our timeworn bodies cannot in any other way experience that redemption of the body for which our redeemed spirits sigh. “Death exists for the sake of the resurrection,” George MacDonald said. “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies...” (1 Corinthians 15:36).
So through death and only through death, can a new being emerge. It rises from the ruins of the old, bearing not one of the marks and stains of the former life, but bearing "the image of the heavenly Man!" (1 Corinthians 15:49). We rise made far better, transformed and conformed to the likeness of God's own Son. John, who was the soul of simplicity, put it this way: "We shall be like Him" (1 John 3:2).
Then shall this groveling worm
find his wings, and soar as fast and free;
As his transfigured Lord with lightning form
and snowy vest—such grace He made for thee.