Tony Stark walks toward the edge of a cliff and throws his chest arc reactor into the sea.
Tony (voice over): So if I were to wrap this up, tie with a bow or whatever, I guess I’d say my armor, it was never a distraction or a hobby, it was a cocoon. And now, I’m a changed man.
Tony gets into his car and starts driving off with the remains of his robot being carried away in the back.
Tony (voice over): You can take away my house, all my tricks and toys. One thing you can’t take away…
I am Iron Man.
This scene from Iron Man 3 has stuck to me since I watched it at the theatre. There is so much you can take just from this one scene.
The beauty about the Biblical Narrative is you can see it in all things. You can see it in nature, in stories, in poems, even in this one small scene. The question is are you aware of it?
The message of the Bible is ingrained in the depths of humanity. Stories about love, redemption, sacrifice, rescue, risk, vulnerability, faith, transformation, the awareness that there is something bigger than me, that there has to be something more about this life than I’m currently living in.
These are the stories the Bible tells of and the stories that are written in our DNA. The same stories that were told thousands and thousands and thousands of years ago is still the same stories we like to read and watch and tell even to this day. Just with different authors. These are the stories we love. We don’t even have to know why we love it, we just do.
A Transformed Man
It’s like the story of Paul. He started out as this Pharisee who was devoted to the Written Law of God. He followed its impossible requirements because that’s what he thought made him righteous in the sight of God which left everybody else a sinner. Because of his devotion to his traditions, he arrested, imprisoned, and some he even put to death those who followed Jesus and His teachings. This was done all in the name of his God. However, he had an encounter with Jesus that transformed who he is. In three years after his encounter, he became one of the leading voices that spread Christianity throughtout Europe and Asia and eventually to the rest of the world. Paul was transformed. He became a changed man.
One result of his transformation can be read in his letters to the Romans when he wrote, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” There was a death that happened in him that caused him to rise again to new life and he summed that whole experience in Christ.
If somebody had a reason to wallow in his past and regret and condemnation and judgement and self-pity, it would be Paul. He killed Christians for a living and now he is calling them his brothers and sisters. However, one thing he had to realize is that if he had to become a messenger of Christ as he was called to do, a change in the way he thought needed to take place. He needed to see that his old life was completely done away. He is no longer the same man. No wonder his name was changed from Saul to Paul. There had to be a changed in his identity. He couldn’t think like he did before his encounter with Jesus.
Just imagine, what if a butterfly still thought that it was a caterpillar? Can it fully step into the life it was created to be? Or will it still be stuck crawling on its belly not knowing that it was a beautiful butterfly who is well equipped to flap its wings and fly?
One thing to note about this metamorphosis, the butterfly has a completely different nature than that of a caterpillar. A caterpillar crawls and a butterfly, well, flies. Once it had become a butterfly, it can no longer see itself as a caterpillar. If the butterfly still sees itself as such, it will not be able to fly. There has to be a change.
Back to Iron Man
Now if you’ve seen Iron Man 1 & 2, Tony Stark was introduced as this rich, drunk. arrogant, self-centered character. He doesn’t care about anyone else and has no regard for other’s opinion. It was all about him and his suit. He can take the world all by himself. But when Avengers comes into the picture, a new nature is starting to form inside him. One that doesn’t look like him before. If you’ve seen it, he was forced to make a choice, he can either become stuck at the old way he thought, that its all about him and nobody else, or die. Save himself or save he world. In that moment, Tony Stark, was changing. A metamorphosis was taking place. So at the end of the movie, he lets go of his self-centeredness and puts his life in danger. He was willing to sacrifice himself in order to save the world from the Alien Invasion. (If you haven’t seen any of these movies you should.)
Breaking through the Cocoon
The story of the butterfly is our story. There something about the story of Paul that resonates inside of us. We watch Tony Stark and his transformation, and we desire the same change. We long for something different. We want to stop asking do I have purpose? do I matter? Am I worth something? where is my life going? why did I have to go through what I had to go though? Why am I suffering? Is this story I am living worth telling?
We want a baptism. We want a metamorphosis.
Metamorphosis is the process in which a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly. The stage in which that occurs is in the cocoon. Baptism is where our metamorphosis happens. According to Paul, his new identity came when His life became hidden in Christ (Col 3:3). When Christ died, he died also. And when Christ was resurrected, he too was resurrected and he became a new creation. Paul’s old life past away, and his new life is here (2 Cor 5:7).
Baptism is the process that transforms us from being a sinner into a saint. From a slave into sonship. From an orphan into adoption. Baptism is our cocoon in which our identity, our nature, who we are at the core is being transformed into a new creation. For Paul, he was crucified with Christ, but most importantly, he had shared in His resurrection, stepping into new life. From a caterpillar into a butterfly. A nature that is completely different from the previous. And the thing about the cocoon, all that is needed for the caterpillar to transform into a butterfly is inside that cocoon. No outside force necessary. New nature comes through death of the old and all that is needed for him to transform into a new creation is in Christ.
This is the message of the Gospel, that in the midst of suffering, when you’re stuck in the past, when everything seems to be falling apart, when you feel like you have no purpose, or worth, or value, remember that….
It’s in the caterpillar that a butterfly is made
It’s in the old creation that new creation is waiting to burst forth.
It’s in the past where a new future can be built
It’s in death that resurrection happens.
Your life can be hidden in Christ. Jesus can be your cocoon that transforms you from the inside out. And when you break through the cocoon, may you rise up and step into a different identity to a whole new nature so you can live a better story and see the world from a different perspective.
Flying instead of crawling.