Back to the Garden

TheGardenOfEden

I’m a couple of days late with this…but you know what they say, it’s better late than never…

mary magdalene empty tomb
Returning to the garden after Good Friday, both we and Mary Magdalene. Mary is up before the first light. It is still dark outside, but the sabbath day of rest has come to an end. So Mary, as soon as allowable by law, has gone back to the tomb where Jesus was lain to anoint his body with spices (we know this from Mark and Luke).
But she comes to the tomb to find the worst possible scene. She sees the stone moved from the front of the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Grave robbers!! Someone has stolen his body!!

Hope
So she runs to tell Peter and John, they come racing to the scene and look inside. There is no body, but the linen cloths that covered his body are laid out, and the face cloth is folded up nice and neat. Which would seem kind of strange, because if you’re going to steal a body why would you unwrap it?

mary weeping
Then the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. Peter and John head back home. But not Mary. She is not leaving that tomb, despondent and heartbroken as she is. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Two angels appear to Mary, that did not appear to Peter and John. Because sometimes you just have to wait for the Lord. Mary is simply broken, weeping, sobbing uncontrollably, and the angels ask, Woman, why are you weeping? Mary answers them “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Ever feel like Mary? Have you ever felt like Jesus has been taken away, he’s gone away, and you don’t know where he’s gone or how to find him?

JesusandMagdalene
Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” They’ve taken Jesus away, and Mary does not know where he is or how to find him. She’s broken and weeping, desperate to know where Jesus has gone. Except he’s standing right next to her. Jesus comes to Mary Magdalene first, even before the disciples, because she was the only one who waited. In her brokenness, with her heart broken and soul crushed, she just had no where else she wanted to be. She had no one else she wanted to be with, no one else she wanted to find. And it was in that moment that Jesus comes to her, and she does not recognize Him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” 

christ-and-mary
 Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Mary mistakes Jesus to be the gardener, which is only logical. Who else would be in the garden so early in the day?  Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary is weeping, mourning the loss of Jesus. The tragedy of his betrayal, arrest, “trials”, torture, crucifixion and death are still so fresh, and now his body is gone, missing. But, it turns out, Jesus has not gone anywhere. He is standing right next to her, talking to her, and she doesn’t even know it!! She does not recognize him and thinks him to be the gardener. To which Jesus simply says “Mary.” He calls her by name, because he knows her name. He calls you by name, he calls me by name. Because he knows my name.

mary-tells-the-apostles-she-has-seen-jesus
Jesus calls Mary by name, She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Jesus tells Mary to go tell HIS brothers that he is risen. Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.” Mary Magdalene, a woman whom Jesus had cast seven demons out of, a woman with quite a past, someone the religious leaders would have considered to be disqualified for such service (not even mentioning the fact that she is a woman), is forever enshrined as the first preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. She is the first preacher of the gospel because she is the first to encounter the risen Christ. She is the first to encounter Jesus because unlike John or Peter, she just didn’t have anywhere else to be but right at that tomb, grieving for her Lord.

in the garden
Mary Magdalene met the risen Christ and mistook him to be the gardener. Except for one thing – that was no mistake at all. Because Jesus is the Gardener. The first seed of resurrection raised is now the gardener of resurrection cultivating new life in all who believe.
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were both members of the ruling council, the Sanhedrin, who had condemned Jesus to die, but they had not consented to his death. In fact, after Jesus’ death, Joseph donated his own tomb and Nicodemus over $100,000 in burial spices to give Jesus a king’s burial, however hurried it might have been. The laid Jesus down in Joseph’s private walled garden. What is a garden? A garden is a place where you grow living things, a place of life.

Jesus-the-gardener
On Holy Saturday, the son of God is a holy seed lying in a peaceful garden. On Easter Sunday, that garden brought forth the first fruits of resurrection. Jesus Christ is declared to be the son of God by his resurrection from the dead.

jesus is the gardener
The first seed raised by God in resurrection has now become the gardener to help all the other seeds come forth in newness of life. The original human vocation is to be a gardener. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The first Adam was given the vocation to be a gardener in the garden of Eden, but he failed miserably at his task. As a result the human experience became a ruined landscape marked by war, sin, sorrow, suffering, misery and death. But the second Adam will succeed in His task. Jesus Christ will restore the Garden. “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The gardener at work, a tree yielding good fruit with leaves for the healing of the nations.
Jesus IS a gardener, what he’s cultivating is you. What he’s cultivating is me. If you believe, all who believe, we are resurrection ferns in the garden of God. Jesus is the gardener tending to the healthy growth of your soul.
King David said it like this – “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.” Psalms‬ ‭52:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Jesus is the steadfast love of God.

cypress tree
“Cypress trees will grow where now there are briers; myrtle trees will come up in place of thorns. This will be a sign that will last forever, a reminder of what I, the Lord, have done.”” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:13‬ ‭GNT‬‬. You are not a lost cause, I am not a lost cause. Jesus is working in his garden, clearing out the thorn bushes and the weeds, bringing up beautiful trees in their place.
“For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.” Isaiah‬ ‭61:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Is your plant dead? Jesus says “No it’s not!! It just needs a little work and I can BRING IT BACK TO LIFE!!”

hands-of-the-gardener
Jesus is the gardener of resurrection, working miracles and saving sinners and bringing those who are dead back to eternal, everlasting life. Christianity is much more about bringing heaven to earth than taking us to heaven. God is not mad at sinners. Which I think is really Good News, because that means he’s not mad at me! My problem is not that I’m guilty and need a lawyer to save me from an angry God. My problem is…me.

the gardener
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Read this part again…’I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ My father is not angry. God loves you, God loves me, just like he loves Jesus! We are part of the family!!

saving sinners
Jesus is a gardener cultivating resurrection life in you, and in me. And just so you know, my ruined landscape is not going to be fixed in one visit. The gardener has to keep working. His work is intimate, the gardener had his hands in the soil, in the humus. The garden is cultivated by living hands on living things. Jesus is not afraid to get his hands dirty with the humus of humanity – and we are messy business.
Your life (my life) is not so ruined that Jesus can’t bring it into a flourishing state. In fact, Jesus can turn it into a lovely garden. Ask Jesus to be the gardener of your soul.
You may not always recognize Jesus as the gardener. Mary didn’t. You may not recognize Jesus even though he is standing right there! But Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.

compostpile
But you say, you have a lot of garbage in your garden? Don’t you know that every good garden has a compost pile. We all know that in this life “stuff” happens. It always does. But when Jesus is our gardener, we know we can just let Him turn that “stuff” into fertilizer to help us grow!!
Because – Jesus IS the Gardener.

 

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.”

‭‭John‬ ‭20:1-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/jhn.20.1-18.esv

John Lewis

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