During His ministry on earth, Jesus spent a majority of His time in the great outdoors. Christ enjoyed gathering people together while surrounded by the works of His creation. Strategically, the Lord knew this would provide the perfect opportunity to turn hearts and minds from the artificial to the natural. Truly, it only makes sense that the Creator would choose to impart His wisdom in this fashion. In the Bible, there are abounding references and profound enlightenment on the subject of nature. There is much to be said about breathing in fresh air while basking in the life-giving elements such as the sun. It’s amazing how nature has the unique ability to energize and calm us.
We are designed by nature and instinctively derive our power from this source. Any time I look at the expansiveness of the sky or ocean, I feel like a part of something great and extraordinary. The further we delve into the natural, the more dimensions are uncovered and we can admit that it is an inexhaustible feat. We exist in a Universe with no beginning or end where everything appears to have purpose and precision. We will have to concede that there are limitations to our understanding which even science cannot explain.
Christ’s objective was/is to unite man with God and earth with Heaven. Jesus graciously reveals the principles of His kingdom by focusing our attention on growth and development to present divine truths. Jesus did not promote abstract theories but that which is essential to the advancement of character, knowledge of God and wholesome living. He spoke in parables so that the unknown could be illustrated by the known in order to have the natural serve as a medium for the spiritual. Jesus secured people’s attention by connecting His teachings to the scenes of everyday life. Afterward, they would look upon the objects and recall the Words of the eternal Teacher.
Christ used nature as a lesson book from which we are to study as God provides an infinite amount of guidance within His creative works. The things of nature are translated into stories and metaphors with rich imagery that could be impressed upon the human heart. There are innumerable ways to dissect and analyze Jesus’ words and actions but for simplicity sake I will keep it concise.
In Matthew 6:25-26, Jesus requests that we do not worry, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
In Matthew 10:16, Jesus lovingly encourages us to be on-guard against evil, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” As children, how many times have we heard a story about a big bad wolf? Perhaps this inspiration was taken from Jesus’ instruction so that we may be permeated with caution.
In John 10:11, He makes a declaration to be our protector, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
In John 4:13-14 and 6:27,35, Jesus brings our mind to food and drink but adds a spiritual twist. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never go thirsty.”
Many of Jesus’ parables utilized nature to communicate spiritual truth. The lessons featured but were not limited to seeds, weeds, wheat, fish, yeast and trees. A popular teaching is The Parable of the Sower by which Christ illustrates seeds as being God’s Word and the soil relates to the condition of the heart.
In Mark 4:15-20, Jesus clarifies the meaning of the parable, “Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
In Mark 11:12-14, we are introduced to Jesus’ wrath, “The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it.” To see a fig tree covered in leaves but with no fruit meant that it was barren. It may not have been the season for figs but Jesus’ cursing of the unfruitful tree serves as a visual parable of judgment on people unresponsive to God. It’s helpful to understand that the cleansing of the temple happened after this scene.
In Mark 4:35-41, we are acquainted with Jesus’s displays of authority, power and glory over nature. These verses also offer a deep lesson about faith and lack thereof especially when faced with a storm. That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
The earth belongs to God, not humanity, however He has entrusted and given us dominion over all. Ultimately, we will be responsible for the condition in which we return God’s possessions along with the spirit he has given us. I don’t anticipate that this will be taken lightly as the Lord is holy and just. We were created in His image therefore expect strict scrutiny given the added responsibility which we’ve been appointed to bear. God loved us enough to give us this precious gift called Life and what we choose to do with it is our gift to Him.
In Luke 21:25-28 Jesus declared that His return will be preceded by natural disasters such as comic disruptions, earthquakes, plagues, famine and so on. “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faith from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son on Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and life up your head, because your redemption is drawing near.”
I found a documentary that beautifully marries God and science to provide a wholistic awareness. If the the mass of an average-sized tree could be converted into energy the power yield would be 43 trillion kWh. The United States generates about 4 trillion kWh of electrical energy per year. How awe-inspiring that the energy from a single tree’s mass could provide a country with power for over 10 years.