It is hardly a revelation to most that before a caterpillar becomes a butterfly it winds up as a hideous looking cocoon. At this stage the creature is in complete bondage – as good as dead! It won’t respond to instruction on right living. Nor will self-help books such as “Your Best Life Now” offer any benefit. There’s only one hope for that creepy crawler – a radical transformation.
IT TOOK A WORM TO GIVE US WINGS
We were once like that caterpillar. Crawling around in the dirt was our natural tendency. The law showed us how dirty our dirt was, but clean living held little appeal. We couldn’t shake our dirt-dwelling disposition. As a result, we found ourselves in bondage.
The Law did an effective job in defining what dirt is, but couldn’t clean it out of our system. Oddly enough, the law became our cocoon. Offering no wiggle room whatsoever, the law put tight restraints on us. We were confined as prisoners, stuck in our shameful state and as good as dead. Our only hope was change – a radical metamorphosis if you will.
By the grace and power of God the miracle of metamorphosis indeed took place. We were set free from the cramped cocoon. To insure we wouldn’t return to the dirt, we were given wings. The Spirit of God became the very wind beneath our wings that we might soar to new heights, even to the heights of heaven.
This radical transformation could not have occurred had not Jesus become a worm. I realize that statement might sound sacrilegious to some, but it’s true. As He hung upon that dreadful cross on Calvary’s hill he cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) These were familiar words to those raised in Jewish homes. Jesus had recited the first verse of Psalm 22.
In ancient Hebrew culture, it was customary to complete the Psalm aloud once a rabbi recited the opening verse. Psalm 22 offers a blow-by-blow account of the crucifixion from the Messiah’s own perspective. There is mention of nail pierced hands and feet, bones bared and out of joint, along with guards gambling for garments. Amid all this horror, the Savior declares, “I am a worm and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people.” (Psalm 22:6)
The word for worm in the original is ‘tola’ which is also Hebrew for ‘scarlet’ as these crude crimson creatures were used for manufacturing red dye. Interestingly enough, tola is also used in scripture to describe sin. Here is just one familiar example:
“Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson [tola] they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
Also known as the crimson grub, the tola tells an interesting story in how it reproduces. The female fastens itself to the limb of a tree then dies while bearing her offspring. The young then consume the body, leaving a scarlet stain on the limb. After a few days this spot turns white as wool then flakes off like snow. In like manner, Jesus became as scarlet upon a tree. He shed His blood, yes, but additionally he became as scarlet by taking on the sins of the world. The apostle Paul put it this way, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
This is what it took to free us from the cocoon and rid us of every last speck of dirt. For a radical metamorphosis to take place, it was necessary for Jesus to become a bloody worm. But He didn’t remain a worm. Neither should we. He has given us wings of eagles. With the wind now blowing in our favor, it’s a wonderful day for sailing. Let us soar to new heights. Even to the heights of heaven.
Sunday Morning at 9:30 & 11:30am
Wednesday Evening at 7:00
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
1601 Pecan St., Pflugerville, TX 78660