Every week as I prepare for the Sunday sermon, I almost always listen to a sermon preached by Dr. John MacArthur on that text. And although he is not known for using illustrations (and he has his own reasons why he doesn't use them often), when he does use them, they always fit the text and are worth passing along. His sermon on Matthew 13:44-46 (which is our text for Sunday) entitled Entering the Kingdom contains a great illustration about the Kingdom of God and how to enter it: die.
A week ago I cuddled up on the couch with Melinda and I said I want to read you a story, honey, that I think you'll like. It's about a caterpillar named Stripe. And so she jumped up and we read about Stripe. Stripe was a caterpillar and he just did what caterpillar's do, he just kind of walked around in a field a little bit. He got kind of bored and so one day he looked off in the distance and he saw a pillar going up into the sky. And he thought - I wonder what that is. And he got closer and he saw that it was a caterpillar pillar. It was just a pillar full of caterpillars climbing up. And he couldn't see at the top because there was a cloud up there and it was just a bunch of caterpillars climbing on each other going into the cloud. And he thought, - Well, maybe that's what caterpillars do; they just climb up caterpillar pillars. And so he got on the caterpillar pillar and he started to climb. And when you're climbing on a caterpillar pillar, you step on anybody's head to get up further. And so he just kept pushing his way up the caterpillar pillar and he'd ask people now and then - What was at the top? And they all said - We don't know, but it seems as though everybody's going there so it must be important. And so they all just kept climbing.
And then one time, he ... he stepped on the head of a little yellow caterpillar whose real pretty and he felt bad about that and then he did something you're never suppose to do when you're climbing a caterpillar pillar, he looked the other caterpillar in the eye and you don't make relationships with people you're stepping on. And then when he made the mistake of looking in the eye, he thought - That's a lovely little yellow caterpillar, and he said to her, you know, maybe it would be better not to climb this caterpillar pillar but to go back to the field and just hug a lot. And so the two of them worked their way back down the caterpillar pillar and into the field and they hugged a lot. And after a while, hugging got a little boring and he said - I think I'm going to go back up the caterpillar pillar and see what's up there. Hugging is kind of boring and she said - I can't go back to that. And so he left her. And she was very lonely and she was crawling around out there in the field and she looked up on a branch and she saw something funny hanging down, it was half of a little case and then it was half of a caterpillar. And she said to the caterpillar What are you doing? Well, I'm spinning a cocoon. And she said Well, why are you doing that? And the caterpillar said - Because I'm going to die. And she said Well, why do you want to die? He said - Because if you die, you get born all over as a butterfly. And she said - Are you sure? Because what if you die and then you just die? And you don't get born as a butterfly? Oh, he says - You do get born as a butterfly because that's what caterpillars are made to be, butterflies, but they have to die first.
And she thought about that a long time because that was a big move. And she decided, too, she'd be willing to die and be born as a butterfly. And then she wouldn't have to climb the caterpillar pillar, she could fly over the top and just look down and see what was up there. And so she spun a cocoon and she died and guess what? She did get born as a butterfly. And she flew over to the caterpillar pillar and here she found Stripe and he was almost to the top. And he was just close enough to the top to find out what the top was all about. You know what happened when you got to the top? Somebody underneath pushed you off and you fell all the way to the bottom and died. And before he did that, she rescued him and he spun his cocoon and he became a butterfly too.
What does that say? I asked Melinda, she said - I know what that says. That says if you're willing to die you can be born again as a Christian. That's right. That's the message of the parable. That's what it's saying.
Think of Christ. He took His life and threw it for a world redeemed. And ere His agony was done before the westering sun went down, crowning that day with its crimson crown. He knew that He had won.