We are entering a refreshingly beautiful time of the year. This is springtime! This is the time that many of us have eagerly looked forward to during the cold and wintry months that are now past. The arctic temperatures, the winter storms, the two feet snow drifts, and the astronomical heating bills, no longer make the news. Instead, the days are lengthening, the birds are busy building nests, the trees are leafing, and the flowers are blooming. Yes, the beautiful flowers with the multicolored blossoms make their arrival! Even the aroma of spring is in the air!
As I leaf through the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament, I come across several provocative verses. Solomon writes of his loved one, “Like a lily among the thorns, so is my darling among the maidens” (2:2). He invites his beloved to delight in the springtime: “The winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land; the time has arrived for pruning the vines, and the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land” (2:11-12). The Shulammite maiden, in return, says, “My beloved is mine, and I am his; he pastures his flock among the lilies” (2:16; 6:3). These two were occupied with each otherbut they were very much in tune with the delightful springtime flowers and natural life around them.
The Lord Jesus also seems to have been very aware of Gods display of wisdom and power in the natural world before Him. When He instructed His disciples to trust in the Father for daily necessities, Jesus cited the flowers: “Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these” (Matt. 6:28-29; Luke 12:27). Jesus spoke these words on a mountain (5:1), and wild flowers would have carpeted the fields, perhaps in plain view of his listeners. He goes on to say that if God clothes these flowers with beauty and cares for them, He will much more care for them (v. 30).
In the springtime we are very aware of the new life all around us. Blossoms appear on the trees. Daffodils and other flowers arrive, announcing the arrival of spring. Although my own property has little compared to others, the deeply-scented roses, with velvety red petals, are already blooming. The lilac-colored clusters of blossoms of the wisteria shrubs along the fence have filled the air with their springtime fragrance. The pansies are yet blooming, having weathered the cold winter months. A new honeysuckle plant is beginning to grow. Several white and lilac iris plants are in full bloom. There is a dazzling array of flowers at the botanical gardens in town. God is reminding us once again that after the cold and gloomy days of the winter comes the fresh new life of the spring!
Although not referring to flowers, Jesus did make an application here that is helpful. As He neared the time of His rejection and death by crucifixion in Jerusalem, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). A seed must be planted and it seems to disintegrate, but the result will be a new plant that bears much fruit. Likewise, Jesus knew that only if He would die on the cross for our sins would there be the fruit of salvation that would extend to many people. He declared, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth [on the cross], will draw all men to Myself” (v. 32). New life comes only through death.
Paul uses the same imagery in 1 Corinthians. “That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own” (15:36-38). Paul is saying that a seed is sown in the ground and disappears. But from that lowly seed comes “life”fresh, new, fruitful life!
The apostle then compares this to our own death and resurrection. We too must physically die. We are sown as a perishable bodybut we will be given an imperishable body at the resurrection (v. 42)! We are now mortalbut we will put on immortality (vv. 53-54)! We are sown in dishonor and weaknessbut we will be raised in glory and power (v. 43)! A natural body will be sown but a spiritual body will rise (v. 44). We have borne the image of Adam, our first parent, but we will be raised to bear the image of Christ, the resurrected Savior (vv. 47-49)! We will be like Jesus (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:1-3)! The present “body of our humble state” will be transformed at the resurrection, “into conformity with the body of His glory” (Philippians 3:21)!
As we enjoy the days of spring, with the warmer weather, the blossomed trees, and the array of colorful flowers on display, let us look beyond the natural, the earthly, and the temporal. Let us be reminded of the spiritual and eternal. Let us ponder the reality of the coming bodily resurrection which is rooted in the reality of Christs literal, bodily, glorious resurrection from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:1-58). Let us also be reminded of the fact that even now God calls us to “die” to sin and self and the world, and be buried with Christ in baptism, and “rise” with Christ “through faith in the working of God” to live a new life as a new creature in the power of the Holy Spirit (Colossians 2:12-13; Romans 6:3-4, 11; 7:6; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
There is one more reminder that we may have during the springtime when nature is “reborn” in all of its splendor. It is this. If we overcome sin, the world, and suffering as a believer, we have a wondrous future! Jesus promises: “To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which in the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). Paradise can be our Home (cf. Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:2, 4). The term paradise comes from a Persian word that seems to carry the idea of “a beautiful garden.” The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (the Septuagint, LXX), consistently uses paradeisos to refer to the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2 and 3. We think of this Edenic garden as a place of perfection, and a place of lovely flowers, beautiful trees, green grass, flowing brooks, and other natural delights. Although there is no scripture that specifically states that there will be flowers in the Paradise Garden (though there will be trees, Rev. 2:7; 22:2), it is a reasonable assumption. If we are in Christ and rein Christ (John 15:1-8), we can look forward to the wonders of Paradise, of which the natural world today is only a bare reminder.
Let us enjoy the delights of springtimebut let us lift our eyes to something greater and more marvelous to come! Are you ready?