Do Butterflies Have a Spiritual Meaning in the Bible?
By Michelle Treacy, Crosswalk.com
Butterflies are some of the most beautiful creatures in God’s creation. My family and I live in Northern Ireland, and we will often travel down south and visit a quaint little village called Malahide.
There, hidden on the Irish coastline, is a 12th-century castle built by the Talbots, which boasts a butterfly house my children love to visit. There we see some of the most wonderful little creatures in every color of the rainbow flying, perching, and eating.
Also hidden in this little house is a space where the caterpillars hang cocooned, ready to morph into butterflies. It is a magical little greenhouse that encourages conversation about nature, life, and creation with our children.
It is a little moment of organic home-schooling, and our kids don’t even realize that, at that moment, they are learning.
But the subject title of today’s article is, do butterflies have a spiritual meaning? Of course, we are going to look at this through the lens of Scripture. But first, let’s see what the world thinks of butterflies.
What Do Butterflies Symbolize?
I think in almost all religions or philosophical conversations, even among the layman and the uneducated, we all agree that butterflies signify meaningful change simply because they are one of the very few animals that can transform from one thing into something completely different.
In Native American tribes, butterflies are thought to represent change, transformation, hope, and even positivity. Some in Western countries would even go as far as to believe that butterflies are brave forces watching over us or loved ones visiting us from beyond the grave.
Let’s take a quick look at the process. It is an amazing transition. They begin life as an egg, which is then used as food for the hatching caterpillars. Next will come the stage of growth.
In this stage, the caterpillars’ sole job in the day is just to eat. A little like that funny little story my husband loved as a child and I often read our four-year-old son, The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle).
When the caterpillar has eaten all that it can, a new stage follows, called the pupa. This phase is also known as the chrysalis. This is the stage where the pupa attaches itself to the underside of a leaf or branch and hangs there.
It is here that it seems as though nothing is happening, but inside that little cocoon, dramatic change is taking place. The cells are growing rapidly and forming the foundation for what will be the legs, wings, eyes, and other parts of the adult body.
The original larva cells provide all the energy that is required in this stage. While the caterpillars’ job is to eat, the adult butterflies’ job is to reproduce more butterflies, laying eggs as often as possible, given some butterflies only live one or two weeks.
What Does the Bible Say about Butterflies?
Reading these words, I am reminded of the verse in Ecclesiastes 3, which states: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot….”
Friend, while I love the idea that butterflies remind us of the transformation that can happen in life, I think it is worth stating here that just because it reminds us of a spiritual message or nudges us towards godly thoughts doesn’t mean that it is a spiritual thing.
Butterflies are created things just like us humans, but I do believe butterflies can direct us toward godly thinking.
Romans 1:20 tells us that “for his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (ESV).
Meaning that in creation, we are given glimmers of God’s invisible attributes and his power and nature. Therefore, in looking at the life of a butterfly made by God, we can see God’s nature.
One of the beautiful things butterflies can remind us of is the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ. Just as butterflies are, Jesus was born, then he died on a cross for us and was buried in the tomb.
This is similar to the cocoon phase for the caterpillar. Remember that when Jesus was in the tomb, the world and even his disciples thought nothing was happening in that grave, just like the cocoon, and that Jesus was gone forever.
Yet, hallelujah, in that grave dramatic changes were taking place, just as they do for the butterfly, but for Jesus, this was a spiritual change in the heavenly realm.
Then in a final act of completion, Jesus was resurrected for us, arising again on the third day to pay the price for our sins and claim his victory over Satan. Praise the Lord!
He rose as a beautiful reminder that Jesus has the final say; Satan is no competition over our God. When the butterfly is cocooned, and it seems as though that is the end, they are birthed again into a new life, as we are when we believe in Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5 tells us, in detail, how we will one day receive a new body with Christ in the heavenly place.
What Does This Mean?
Just as the caterpillar gets a new body in the form of a butterfly, so we, as believers, will one day shed these mortal shells and obtain an eternal body with the Lord in heaven. What a thought!
It is the life of the butterfly that can show us what this will really look like. No longer will we be our old selves living in this sinful body, but we will be a new creation in Christ.
As 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Friend, I truly hope that you know this hope for your future, that one day the old will pass away, and you will be whole and anew in Christ!
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:14 the following words: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
Because Christ died, you need not. John 3:16 tells us that God loves us so much He sent His son to die in our place; these verses in Corinthians directly tie into that.
But it goes further in verses 20 and 21 by saying: “we implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Wouldn’t it be lovely to wake up tomorrow and know at the rise of the sun that you have been forgiven by God. That you now live in the righteousness of God?!
What a morning it would be to know the sins of the past have been paid for in full by the blood of Christ, and you get to live your life no longer as a caterpillar crawling in shame, sin, and guilt but as a butterfly redeemed and flying in grace!?
May I echo the words of Paul and implore you to consider a relationship with Christ. I do pray if you have read these words and you do not know Jesus that you would consider laying down the old self and choosing to follow Christ, declaring love for Him, and spending the rest of your life learning to love Jesus more.
For further reading:
What Does it Mean ‘If Anyone Is in Christ He Is a New Creation’?
How Is God’s Majesty Seen in Creation?
How Are We Made in the Image of God?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/borchee
Michelle Treacy is a Christian writer, a wife to Gerald, and a busy mother of three, Emily, Ava Rose, and Matthew. Finding time to write is not always easy. However, Michelle’s desire to write about Jesus, and passion to teach is what motivates her. Michelle writes on Instagram Michelle_Treacy_ and for CrimsonSeasCA. Also, on WordPress at Thoughts From My Bible. If you meet her in person, you will likely find her with two things in hand, a good Christian book, and a cup of tea!