~ God's Easter Garden ~
Here’s something that you may not know about God’s character that you might consider during the Easter season. To start with, what was the first thing God did after He created Adam? Well, He rested:
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. ~ Genesis 2:1-2
However, if you look further down in the chapter, you find this:
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. ~ Genesis 2:7-8
After He made Adam, God planted a garden. It was, in fact, the perfect place for Adam and Eve to live, grow, and serve Him. So, Adam became a gardener also.
Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. ~ Genesis 2:15
But when Adam and Eve sinned, God cast them out of the garden and death passed upon all men.
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” - therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. ~ Genesis 3:22-24
Now, let us look forward to the time of Jesus. Here He is sharing the Last Supper with His apostles, Judas having already left to betray Him. Here are His last words to the apostles:
“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” ~ John 17:24-26
They leave the upper room and go into the night. But where do they go?
When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. ~ John 18:1
He went into a garden, the garden of Gethsemane. And here, leaving His disciples to sleep, He anticipates His final, perfect act of Redemption. While Jesus is in this agony, Judas, having collected his thirty pieces of silver, leads the mob to Jesus. But how does Judas know where He will be?
And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. ~ John 18:2-3
Of course! He must be in the garden, for He often went there with His disciples. Jesus is taken, mocked, scourged, and sent to Calvary, bearing His own cross. There He enters into the darkness and completes the work of redemption, suffering the wrath of God that we deserved, so that we might be delivered from sin and its consequences. But when the darkness is gone, the Savior remains! In life, the Lord Jesus had no place of His own, saying to the crowd at one point:
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” ~ Matthew 8:20
Here at last He finds the only place to rest His head: His own breast.
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. ~ John 19:30
The Lord Jesus Christ is dead. Where will He be buried?
Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby. ~ John 19:41-42
His body is laid in a new tomb, which is, of course, in a garden. Now it is Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, and the women come to the garden to anoint the body of their beloved Lord. Based on their actions in the garden of Gethsemane, one can only assume that the men are still asleep. Who is there first?
Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” ~ John 20:1-2
Peter and John come to the garden and enter the sepulchre, but they are baffled. They still do not understand that the Messiah, their crucified Lord, must rise from the dead. They leave, but Mary, completely distraught, remains behind.
Then the disciples went away again to their own homes. But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, 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, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” ~ John 20:10-17
Not recognizing the Lord through her tears, she nevertheless perceives someone whom she assumes is the gardener! God’s character has never changed since the days of creation and never will. The Song of Solomon is the story of the Bridegroom and the Bride. Our Bridegroom has ascended into glory. The question is asked, “Where has He gone?”
Where has your beloved gone,
O fairest among women?
Where has your beloved turned aside,
That we may seek him with you?
My beloved has gone to his garden,
To the beds of spices,
To feed his flock in the gardens,
And to gather lilies.
I am my beloved’s,
And my beloved is mine.
He feeds his flock among the lilies. ~ Song of Solomon 6:1-3
But we know He will return for us, our Savior, our Bridegroom, our Beloved, our Gardener. We will hear His voice and be caught up to meet Him, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)
The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes
Leaping upon the mountains,
Skipping upon the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Behold, he stands behind our wall;
He is looking through the windows,
Gazing through the lattice.
My beloved spoke, and said to me:
“Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away.
For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grapes
Give a good smell.
Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away! ~ Song of Solomon 2:8-13