What comes to mind when you read Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30.)
Are you thinking, “Flowers are so pretty. God loves the flowers and takes care of them. He loves people even more, and even if I’m not as rich as King Solomon I know that God will take care of me just like he does the pretty, pretty flowers.”
If that’s your take on the passage, you’re probably in the majority of Bible readers.
But consider this: when Jesus preached on God providing for his people, those same people might have had something very different in mind when Jesus mentioned the flowers of the field. They might have been thinking of a similar phrase from the Psalms.
But the wicked will perish:
Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.
Parallel Flower Beds
Consider the parallels:
- Flowers of the field in one; flowers of the field in the other.
- God acting in one; the Lord in relationship to his enemies in the other.
- Thrown into the fire in one; consumed in smoke in the other.
If you heard Jesus’ sermon and remembered Psalm 37 as he spoke, what might you have thought? You might have thought that the flowers of the field Jesus spoke of represent not just pretty, pretty flowers. They stood for wicked, wicked people.
It’s not just that Jesus could expect some of his listeners to be familiar with Psalm 37, though. He prepared them for this metaphor when – earlier in the sermon – he told them:
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45.)
Rain is what causes flowers to grow, of course, and the rain metaphor shows that God provides for all people, good and bad. Many of Jesus’ listeners must have made the connection when they soon heard him speak of flowers of the field: these flowers are a metaphor for wicked people but God cares for them anyway, and if he cares for them then he will certainly care for those who belong to Jesus.
And the way Jesus cares for you is better than you can imagine, and it lasts for eternity.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10.)
A Bounteous Bouquet
That brings us back to the idea some people have that Jesus really was talking about pretty, pretty flowers in Matthew 6.
At least when it comes to considering these metaphorical flowers beautiful, Jesus means it. The flowers are in splendor, he said. Even as a metaphor for wicked people, Jesus says the flowers are splendidly beautiful.
That’s because everyone is beautiful, and God rains down blessings on them: water and sun and food and laughter. A rainfall of blessings.
Be blessed. You’re beautiful too.
Now go stand in the rain.