Jesus observes and appreciates nature
Jesus constantly calls his disciples and his followers to look at the world around them. His teaching regularly draws on examples and illustrations from the world of plants and animals, and it seems that Jesus just sees a layer of meaning in everything around him. The sun, the rain, birds, trees, the cycles of the seasons, each of these tells him something about God the father. And so Jesus’ teachings do not propose a philosophy or a merely intellectual perspective – his is a theology of the everyday. Read through the Sermon on the Mount sometime, and spot the down-to-earth imagery:
- The earth: heaven and earth, sun, rain, sand, rock, floods and storms.
- The human body: hands, heart, head, the face, eyes, teeth, and cheeks.
- Plants: trees, lilies, grass, grapes, figs, thorn bushes and thistles.
- Animals: birds, dogs, pigs, fish, snakes, sheep, and wolves.
The Sermon on the Mount is just one example. Again and again Jesus poetically makes his point with allusions to nature: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests” (Matt 8:20) “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” (10:29) “How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!” (12:12) “A tree is recognized by its fruit.” (12:33)
If it strikes you that there is something wonderfully innocent and childlike about Jesus’ observations about the world around him, you would not be the first to notice. Jesus said the same thing himself: “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” (11:25)