In both cases, I found myself wondering: How far can we push this metaphor? Can we know more about our life in Christ by learning more about its reflection in something else? Are they even worth studying as images, or would close investigation ruin the similitude?
I reminded myself of Nicodemus in John 3: Birth is a fine image, Jesus. But let’s not push it too far. People can’t be born when they’re old. They can’t enter a second time into their mothers’ wombs to be born. But Jesus doesn’t relent on the image. He pushes it further, and adds a second: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.” And another: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness . . .” John adds another: “Light has come into the world . . .”
At another time, Matthew records, “Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable” (13:34). Whether it’s through butterflies or marriage or the dust of Mars (which we touch on in our third piece), he’s still using them. Seventeenth-century microscopist Johannes Swammerdam looked at the caterpillar’s metamorphosis and found that it revealed an even more glorious truth than a simple allegory of rebirth. Hearers of revivalist preacher George Whitefield heard “thy maker is thy husband” and became “sick” with love for Jesus. In both cases, pushing deeper into the image—not just as an illustration, but as a reality—prompted praise and wonder. We hope this issue, and all the metaphors presented in this magazine, do the same for you.
—Ted Olsen, co-editor
- Are Butterflies a New Creation After All?
Their metamorphosis has inspired spiritual metaphors and biological debate for centuries. /
- George Whitefield, Divine Matchmaker
The revivalist preached, ‘Come and be married to Christ’—and sparked the Great Awakening. /
- Thy Maker is thy Husband
The 18th-century poem on union with Christ that became George Whitefield’s favorite metaphor. /
- If C.S. Lewis Met E.T.
Scientists and theologians on the possibility of extraterrestrial life. /
- Wonder on the Web
Links to amazing stuff /