Consider the lillies…
Brian keeps getting mistaken for the Messiah. In this scene he must come up with some pithy teaching on the hoof.
BRIAN: …Consider the lilies… in the field…
ELSIE: Consider the lilies?
BRIAN: Uh, well, the birds, then.
EDDIE: What birds?
BRIAN: Any birds.
BRIAN: Well, have they got jobs?
BRIAN: The birds.
EDDIE: Have the birds got jobs?!!
FRANK: What’s the matter with him?
ARTHUR: He says the birds are scrounging.
BRIAN: Oh, uhh, no, the point is the birds. They do all right. Don’t they?
FRANK: Well, good luck to ‘em.
EDDIE: Yeah. They’re very pretty.
BRIAN: Okay, and you’re much more important than they are, right? So, what are you worrying about? There you are. See?
EDDIE: I’m worrying about what you have got against birds.
BRIAN: I haven’t got anything against the birds. Consider the lilies.
ARTHUR: He’s having a go at the flowers now.
The reason so much of Life of Brian works is that Jesus’ teachings are already saturated with comedic themes. In this part of the sermon on the mount He combines observation with comedy’s stock-in-trade: juxtaposition. Jesus looks at the world and compares situations that we ordinarily keep separate. Bird’s don’t sow or reap and “good luck to ‘em” we think. It doesn’t occur to us that their way of life should have any bearing on ours. And if we do compare we can only judge them by our standards – i.e. they’re scrounging!
But Jesus wants us to think the other way around. Allow the lillies and the birds to judge us. It’s not they that are wasters, it’s we that are worriers.
26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Matthew 6:26-30)
Birds are cared for by ‘our heavenly Father’. And we are much better than birds. We are adopted children of the Father.
Grass is clothed better than Solomon who was a christ – an anointed king. And we are better than grass. We are christs, anointed to rule by the Spirit.
Therefore (v30) let us have faith in this: Apart from Jesus I am one of the Gentiles (v32) and I am worse off than birds and grass – certainly that’s how I live. Yet in Jesus, I am a king of creation – I am a christ, a son of God.
Therefore if I want to see the epitome of worry-free living I should look to Jesus. He is the Christ, the Son of God who is proclaimed in every detail of His creation, right down to the lillies. I look up to Jesus and see incredible peace and poise. I look around to the “fowls” and “lillies” and see divine dependence in every detail. But I look within and find faithless worry and toil.
How galling that even flora and fauna outstrip me in care-free living. O me of little faith!