Monday, April 17, 2017

The Gardener

There's one more beautiful image of a bloody Jesus worth looking at, and it's the image that Mary discovered at the tomb: the gardener.

This is the kind of thing that God is really good at, and the kind of thing that only He can pull off so beautifully. There are a lot of images of Jesus in Scripture - as Lamb, as Son, as Christ, as carpenter, as prophet, as priest, as Rabbi, as rabblerouser, as friend, as sacrifice, as shepherd, etc. But one of the images that we don't see until after He has died is that of gardener. 

Yet look at the way that God has put His story together, both His big story and His little story. In the beginning, there was a garden. It was Eden, and God walked among His creation. And everything was good, very good. In the end, Revelation tells us, there may just be another garden. There's certainly the narrative of the angels with their flaming swords, placed to guard Eden after man's original sin, being released from their duty. The garden is open once more. Creation goes from good to very good, from garden to garden.

And then there's this story of Jesus, right? This little story that is the nutshell of the big story. And this whole passion of Jesus, these final few hours - they start in a garden. He's gone to Gethsemane to pray. He is among His people. Then, the Roman guard storms in. The soldiers arrive. Swords are swung. ...Swords, you say? Like, I don't know, the flaming swords given the angels who were set to guard Eden? (I told you this is the kind of thing that God does so well.)

There is betrayal, there is grief, in the garden. Sound like a familiar story?

A few days later, Mary goes to the tomb, but Jesus is not there. At least, not where she expected Him to be. She looks around, and there's only one guy there. Now, think about the context of this scene for a minute. The tomb is in the land belonging to Joseph. She doesn't mistake the man for Joseph (she probably could not, since he had a bit of a high reputation and would likely be well-known). Just outside of the town, it might have been common to find flocks grazing from here to there. But, of course, there are no sheep in this narrative (at least, not that we know of), so she doesn't mistake Him for a shepherd. It could be a hired hand, a slave, but the Bible narrative has never been shy about slaves; if that's what she'd thought, it would have told us so. 

Honestly, it could have been just about anyone walking around out there. Surely, there were others who were curious about the grave of Jesus. Surely, there were others who might have been drawn by the spectacle of it all. And, by the way, there should have been at least one or two Roman guards out there. At what point did they find the tomb empty? At what point did they leave? The angel beat Mary to the tomb, since the stone was already rolled away, and by the way, the angel already clued her in.

But she stumbles into this man, this stranger just outside the city, just outside the tomb, and she mistakes Him for the gardener and says, "What have you done with my Lord?" 

And the gardener, in that beautiful way that God does things, says, essentially, "He walks among you." Here I am. It's me. Just like in the beginning, my feet and your feet on the same ground. Just like in the end, flaming swords released from duty.

From garden to garden, from beginning to end, from good to very good, our living Lord walks among us.

The gardener....

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