|Create Date||April 25, 2017|
|Last Updated||June 15, 2017|
(For word document click title above) THE GARDENER John 20:1-18
Easter Sunday - Redhill. 16 April 2017. Presented by Gordon Green
In the early hours of Sunday morning after the crucifixion of Jesus, Mary Magdalene found the tomb empty. She ran back and told Peter and John. They all ran to the tomb and saw it empty. Later the disciples left but Mary stood outside weeping. Inside the tomb were two angels seated where Jesus’ body had been. Suddenly she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t realise it was Jesus. She thought it was the gardener. Then she recognized him! There are many riveting and inviting topics to pursue in this event that had a massive impact on the world. But I just want to concentrate on one – the gardener. It’s interesting that in the Bible many of the critical, central turning points occur in gardens. The first human beings were created in a garden. The man was made out of the mud of the earth. For a time they enjoyed fellowship with God. Also, in the garden humans experienced the first encounter with evil and temptation. Adam and Eve were seduced and there was sin. Then in the Garden of Gethsamene Jesus sweat blood resisting the same kind of temptation. In the garden he would be betrayed, arrested... and then buried in a garden. On Easter Sunday he appeared as a gardener. The Bible ends with God and mankind in a garden setting.
On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn. - G. K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man
Jesus’s resurrection is to be seen as the beginning of the new world, the first day of the week, the unveiling of the prototype of what God is now going to accomplish in the rest of the world. Mary supposes Jesus is the gardener; that’s the right mistake to make because, like Adam, he is charged with bringing God’s new world to order. NT Wright - Surprised by Hope: p239
WHAT DOES A GARDENER DO?
Prepares, works, fertilizes, harvests, manages, plants, prunes, develops new life, cultivates, tends, nurtures, grows living things - in a garden. When Mary thought Jesus was the gardener she was actually right. Because he is. He is cultivating you and me. You are a resurrection plant in the garden of God. Jesus is at work in our lives, to nurture and cultivate resurrection life in us. (Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.) He cares for our healthy growth.
GARDENING IS A LIFETIME WORK
A gardener does not show up and dig, plant, nurture and fix ruined land in one visit and then leaves. It is a lifetime of work. It is an intimate work. He has his hands in the soil – living hands on living things. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty. It’s messy to be gardener but Jesus has a green thumb! Your life is not so messed up that Jesus cannot revive you and bring you into a flourishing state. Ever see flowers or a plant looking very frail and wilting in your garden? Add water and it comes back to life!
Spiritual growth is sometimes tedious work, one small step at a time. Expect gradual improvement. There are also seasons in our spiritual lives. Sometimes we have short, intense bursts of growth (springtime) followed by a period of stabilizing and testing (fall and winter).
What about those problems, habits, and hurts you would like miraculously removed? It's fine to pray for a miracle, but don't be disappointed if the answer comes through a gradual change. Over time, a slow, steady stream of water will erode the hardest rock and turn giant boulders into pebbles. Over time, a little sprout can turn into a giant redwood tree towering 350 feet tall.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
As you grow to spiritual maturity, there are several ways to cooperate with God in the process. Our lives are often like withered, drooping plants. Even if your life is overgrown with weeds it doesn’t matter.
- Step out in trust and ask Jesus to be your gardener.
· Believe God is working in your life even when you don't feel it. Even when you can’t see him. Mary never recognised him but he was there. Believing this will change your perspective in life.
· When difficult, painful things happen let Jesus use them to make you grow. Remember, every garden has a compost heap! Romans 8:28 “all things work together for good” or “God works all things together for good” or “God works in all things for the good.”
- Keep a record or journal of lessons learned or learning. Write down the insights and life lessons God teaches you about him, about yourself, about life, relationships etc. Record these so you can review and remember them. Reviewing your spiritual journal regularly can spare you a lot of unnecessary pain and heartache.
A Prayer (based on Hebrews 13:20-21)
Father I pray that you will equip me with everything good that I may do your will and work in me that which is pleasing in your sight.