Why Jesus is a Butterfly and Logic Fails

Mark 6:1-4 – Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” Then they scoffed. “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.

When Jesus went to Nazareth and began to preach in the synagogue, the people were amazed at first. They knew they were hearing something great, completely out of the ordinary and departed from the norm. So they asked the question: “Where does he get the power to do this?”

The act of asking was appropriate—and was, in fact, the first step in Jesus’s model to getting answers in Matthew 7:7-8, which illustrates a cycle of asking, seeking, and knocking.

Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church refers to the Matthew 7:7-8 model as having a divine order; first, you ask the question which pertains to the matter at hand. Next, you go out and look for the answer, and when you come to what you think could be the solution to your question, you pursue it.

The people of Nazareth asked where Jesus got His wisdom and the power to do miracles. They moved on to step 2 of the model: seeking. They investigated what they knew of Jesus: He was born in Bethlehem, raised and trained as a carpenter in Nazareth, and had several siblings, whom they all knew—plus his mother, also a Nazarene they had probably known since she was young.

Not knowing where else to start, they tried to draw the answer to their question from Jesus’s past. There was nothing wrong with starting there, of course. Most times when God wants to show how His hand is on the blossoming of something, He’ll show the process first.

Why is a butterfly so magnificent? Because it doesn’t resemble anything it came from. From a completely different genetic makeup, to the remarkable contrast in habits and coloration, the butterfly could never intuitively be associated with the caterpillar if you missed observing it in the cocoon stage.

Jesus’s cocoon stage was His 40 days in the wilderness, fasting and becoming weak and vulnerable until He was in the perfect position for Satan to come and tempt Him.

When caterpillars become cocoons, they are at their most vulnerable. Their bodies literally liquefy, and then they are remodeled into a teeny-tiny compressed version of what they are to become, while still limited to the perimeter of their cocoon.

Nobody got to witness Jesus as a cocoon. He was alone in the wilderness, with no witnesses to cheer Him on or bear the testimony of how Jesus triumphed personally over temptation.

I would like to propose that nobody witnessed Jesus in His cocoon phase because it would have been easy to believe Him if someone had been there to witness every single step of His life. That would have defeated the purpose of the leap of faith it takes to believe that a caterpillar can turn into a butterfly. It would have taken faith for the people of Nazareth to believe that the Jesus who taught before them now was the same Jesus who had been supposedly destined to follow in his dad’s footsteps as a carpenter.

In order to believe that a caterpillar can turn into a butterfly, you have to believe that there is such a thing as a Kairos moment—where time meets destiny. You have to believe that there is a point in time where something bigger than what the caterpillar could ever hope to be comes in and fashions it into something greater than itself.

Oftentimes when we encounter God and have our standards raised to heights of excellence which were previously unattainable, we are unable to find encouragement from our peers who have been near us since before we put our “old man” to death. They look at us reaching higher and achieving things that our background does not give us the power to achieve, and rather than asking sincerely where we get it, they say, “Well, you can’t be this, because you’re you.”

“You can’t be a butterfly, because you’ve been a caterpillar all your life.”

“You can’t suddenly decide not to watch this movie or talk badly about this person with us; weren’t you shoplifting two weeks ago?”

Again, it’s not a bad thing to examine someone’s past to see just how grand a progression they have made. However, I ask you to take into consideration the following quote by Kris Vallotton:

Your history is not your destiny.

And that’s where people get tripped up. They don’t understand how you could live in a box all your life, get taken out of the box and miraculously transformed, then put back into the box.

Determining where someone is by examining the journey it took for them to get there is only good until you start limiting where someone is by where they’ve been. It’s like saying that if the farthest you’ve ever run in your life is 500 meters, it’s not possible that you’re not able to run 1,000 meters just because you went and trained in secret.

So here are the Nazarenes, flocking to the synagogues to hear Jesus preach, and they are confronted with this exact problem. They have asked the question, which led to a process of seeking, sifting through Jesus’s past to find the mustard seed and momentum that would explain how Jesus got to this point where He is a man speaking with authority about the mysteries of a holy Kingdom.

And they come up against a wall: A big, blindingly vast, solid brick wall. Their logic isn’t working. The equation is missing a variable. There is no way that the son of a local carpenter could just waltz on up to the synagogue and start preaching with such wisdom, when all he had been taught all his life was what the teachers at the synagogue knew, and they had all heard that song and dance before.

This is the faith part. When we are confronted with walls in our lives after the process of asking and seeking, and there doesn’t seem to be anywhere else to turn, there’s only one thing left to do: Knock. And I don’t mean politely, with the knuckles. I mean full-force, running start, knocking your head into that wall.

Because oftentimes, our head is exactly what’s causing the problem. We think ourselves into a corner, then we just throw up our hands and give up. That’s exactly what the Nazarenes did. They said, “Well, look at Mary. Look at his sisters and brothers. They all came from the same place, but none of the variables of what we know are adding up to the greatness we see now.”

Mark 6:4 says the Nazarenes were greatly offended and refused to believe in Jesus. Webster’s defines the word “offend” as a cause to feel annoyed, upset or resentful.

I believe the word “offended” in this context means “to be repulsed as the result of a deep inability to understand.”

As humans, we already generally don’t like the things we don’t understand. We don’t like it when our logic fails, when something slips through our powers of reason. And to say “Well, it must be God” seems like an easy way out to some people. In fact, unless you already walk in a lifestyle of faith where you attribute just about everything to God, to dismiss something great as an act of God seems too easy.

All of us come to a point sooner or later where we have reached the end of our logic rope and are forced to make a choice. We may choose either continue battling it out and rewiring the cords of our circular arguments to try and make some sense, or to surrender to a big, scary supernatural world where nothing works the way we plan or factor it to. In this world, several variables to our life’s equations are invisible and might never be known to us, and sometimes things are the way they are just ‘cause God made them that way.

The former choice results in ignorance, a word which is often thoughtlessly and insensitively thrown out to describe someone who continues in their thinking in spite of seemingly obvious evidence that is right in front of them.

In verse 6 of Mark 6, it says that Jesus is amazed by the Nazarene’s unbelief. In the same way the Nazarenes realized Jesus’s wisdom and miracles were something great and were amazed, Jesus knew that their unbelief was a stunning feat.

“You can’t be where you are because of where you came from,” said the Nazarenes.

I can just picture Jesus pleading with them, trying to help them understand: “Exactly! Yes! I’m not where I am because of where I came from!”

The Nazarenes were so close to a breakthrough. They were on the edge of understanding a Kingdom concept that could have completely transformed their culture. But they stopped their journey to find an answer at asking and seeking, and didn’t bother questioning their own thinking, or plowing through the confusion in faith to find the clarity that was just beyond.  

It’s not enough to ask a question and look around for possible answers to consider. You have to be willing to pursue the solution and lay down your logic. Or, in the words of Levi, you have to ask, seek, and knock it off!

Be willing to confront your own thought patterns and the walls you run into. Be daring. Take the leap. Like I said, it’s big and it’s scary—but there are butterflies on the other side.

Job and Integrity

Webster’s dictionary defines integrity simply as wholeness, but I would like to propose that Webster’s definition is incomplete. There are a great many things on this planet, many of them manmade, which we consider to be “whole,” but are not actually of sound integrity. For example, buildings that are hastily put together, with all their parts intact, are often perceived as “whole,” but as soon as an earthquake, flood, or even natural aging comes into play, the structure crumbles.

I would like to augment Webster’s definition of wholeness with a key action:  “Integrity is wholeness tested under pressure.” The Bible talks about integrity nine times; three of these are in Proverbs, one is in Psalms, and one is in 1st Kings. The remaining four mentions of integrity are in the book of Job, which is known by many as both the oldest and the least inspiring book of the Bible due to the sufferings and agony of the title character.

The book of Job begins with this: “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity.” The stage of the book of Job is set by a meeting of God and “the accuser,” Satan. God proudly points out to Satan that Job is, as mentioned before, a man of complete integrity. Satan scoffs and says that Job has never been given a reason not to act in integrity, so why should he be acting otherwise? “You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property,” Satan retorts. “Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!

God gives Satan permission to test Job’s integrity, and the book proceeds with Job being robbed of everything he has, from his wealth to his family, and eventually his health. The Bible reports that Job never failed in his integrity by cursing God; the morals and standards he had upheld for himself in times of prosperity stood true in times of great testing when he was stripped of everything but his heart.

Integrity is not something that can be measured or evaluated when there is nothing at stake. You can’t gauge the integrity of a ship’s hull if it is not being tossed about at sea or scraping up against icebergs. Likewise, the only way to tell the integrity of a man is if you take the person that he claims to be in his comfort zone and put him under immense pressure. The man will either conquer the testing and be proven pure, or will crumble under the pressure and be reduced to the basic essence of his humanity.

Integrity is who you are behind the scenes, when all the masks come off and nobody is watching you. When it’s just you and the silence, and you don’t have to put on a façade for anybody. The test of your integrity comes in secret, where nobody is around to applaud you if you succeed, or cheer you on even if you fail.