"Behold, the new has come."
Let’s dive into another devotional drawn from nature. Our topic: budding!
After days of near-freezing temperatures, I was surprised to come across many new rosebuds in flowerbeds across Tulsa, all charging forward even as autumn closed around them. It brought me joy… a visible reminder of new life springing forth as older forms pass away.
Scripture often reflects on flowers in the cycle of life. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever,” as Isaiah 40:8 reminds us. Other references strike harder. “He comes out like a flower and withers,” Job 14:2 says. This gets even more depressing in Psalm 103:15-16 – “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.”
Perhaps the hardest budding link came from Christ. Jesus offered His disciples a glimpse of the end times in Luke 21, starting with verse 5. He then told them a parable, recorded in verse 29: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”
That said, many of Scripture's floral references offer hope. The Song of Solomon 2:12 cites blossoms as a promise of life and love: “The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ linked flowers to God’s provision. “And why are you anxious about clothing?” Matthew 6:28-29 tells us. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
As hinted above, Scripture extends its symbolism of buds and budding beyond flowers to grains, trees, even mankind. Isaiah 11:1 tells us “A shoot will grow out of Jesse's root stock, a bud will sprout from his roots.” Isaiah 61:11 further develops this Messiah reference: “For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.”
This is one reason budding flowers stir my heart, for it’s here that God’s new covenant resonates. Isaiah 43:19 tells us, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” While that clearly foreshadows Revelation 21:5 – “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” – Isaiah’s text has a more direct echo in Ezekiel 11:19 – “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.”
Christ advanced this symbolism when confronted by the pharisee Nicodemus. As John 3:3 shares, this night visit spurred Jesus to speak these resounding words – “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” So many glorious concepts came forth in their talk, which journeyed from the Spirit to eternal life and the light of the world. Nicodemus struggled to understand these, as probably anyone would before the resurrection brought clarity to Christ’s ministry. The apostle Paul brings this home in 2nd Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”