Mary supposes Jesus to be the gardener. A few days earlier,
in another garden, Jesus’ trusted friends could not stay
awake and pray, and another betrayed him. Jesus begged, “Let
this cup be taken from me.”
We hear echoes of the first garden. The writer of Genesis
says Adam and Eve hear God in the garden and hide because
they are afraid, suddenly aware of how much they stand to lose.
And on this Easter Sunday, thousands of years later, we come to
this garden where Jesus’ body has been laid. Mary Magdalene
watched the man she thought was the Messiah die. Everything
had come undone.
But this gardener rewrites the script. In the first garden,
characters leave in tears. In the garden of Gethsemane, disciples
run in panic. In this garden of the new creation, the gardener
sends Mary to announce, “I have seen the Lord!” What happens
in this garden redeems every garden that’s come before it.
Wangari Maathai, an activist with the Green Belt movement,
began paying women to plant tree seedlings in Kenya in
the 1970s. People laughed. But slowly the trees took root and
made the dead places green and full of life again. Now the trees
aren’t just holding back the desert; they’re driving it back.
People thought they were burying Jesus when they put
him in the tomb. But they weren’t burying; they were planting.
And when he sprang up green and fresh, he took that dead, arid
place and turned it into a garden, filling it with life.
Christ is risen! Shout hosanna! Celebrate this day of days!
It is not appropriate to conclude that God disappears at the cross and only emerges again in the event of Easter. Christian proclamation of the cross begins with the understanding that even in Jesus’ utter abandonment, God was present. The Holy Week/Easter texts bring together the common themes of death’s reality, the powerful intrusion of the delivering God, and the manifold responses to resurrection. Paul argues that the gospel looks to many like nothing more than weakness and folly. The cross symbolizes defeat but is in reality the instrument of power and salvation. Isaiah 50:4-9a recalls the hostility that follows upon servanthood. A moment of acceptance, even welcome, will not hide from the servant the fact of the rejection to come. John 20 honestly faces the reality of death. Paul asserts in First Corinthians that the cross of Jesus Christ reveals the power of God.
• Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. When have you faced a task with your face set like int? How did your resolve impact the outcome of your work?
• Read Matthew 27:57-66. When have you attempted to seal Jesus in a tomb? When have you felt anxious or fearful about the change Jesus might bring in your life?
• Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. In what ways have you discovered the Cross to be God’s wisdom for you?
• Read John 20:1-18. How does Jesus’ resurrection signal new life to you? What comes to you “green and fresh” today?
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