Summary: Ravi Zacharias’ book "Jesus Among other Gods" gave the idea for this Easter sermon. It looks at four gardens, Eden, the desert, Gethsemene, and the garden where the tomb was and relates each garden to a time in our lives.
Four Gardens of Life
One of the things that I look forward to in the spring is planting our gardens. Leslie and I are starting to put away some money for plants. She is telling me some things that she would like to do with the flowers, and I have been telling her some things I want to do regarding vegetables.
When I was growing older (I’m not sure if I’ll ever grow up) in Minto we always had a huge vegetable garden. Things always followed a very strict pattern. We’d start by tilling the soil and fertilizing it. Dad and a friend of his would go get the plants for transplanting. When the time was right, we’d get out the tape measure and stakes and line off our rows and do the planting. We would do all the daily caring for the garden, weeding, hoeing, watering. In the fall of the year we would enjoy a wonderful harvest, much more than what we would need, and dad freely and cheerfully gave much of the produce away to neighbours.
Everyone who saw our garden told us how beautiful it was, and I don’t mind telling you that they were right. My father put a lot of work into it, much more than I did, and the beauty of that garden was directly related to the care of the gardener.
When my father died I promised that I would not put in another garden until I had someone I loved to share it with. The first time I put in a garden since my parents died was the first year of my marriage. You see the garden was not so much an exercise of necessity, we could buy the vegetables cheaper than what it cost to grow them. Planting the garden was an act of love.
Today I want to take you on a journey to visit four gardens. Each garden varied greatly in what was produced, but the underlying reasons for each of the gardens was the same. You see, the underlying reason for each of the gardens is the love of the gardener to those around Him.
THE GARDEN OF EDEN:
Our first garden takes us back to the beginning of time. It was a beautiful garden filled with the creation of God. You cannot think of this garden without being drawn to the creator. This garden encompassed all of creation, in fact the first garden ever planted was planted by God. We have an account of this in Genesis 2:8-15. It was also in this garden that God made a helper for man in woman.
This was a garden of perfection, and this was a gardent that was formed out of love. All creation was good, according to the record here, but it was only the creation of man and woman that is said to be "very good." The garden of Eden was created as an act of love and relationship by God for His creation, because this was a creation of spiritual as well as physical dimensions. In this garden God created something that is seldom seen as we study it. He created the opportunity for man to return love to God and be in a pure relationship to Him.
Have you ever asked yourself why God even put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden in the first place? Have you ever wondered what it looked like, what the fruit tasted like? Do we have it in our world today? Surely God, knowing that man would fall, could have taken the tree out of the garden and solved the problem. You see the tree of knowledge of good and evil was not a specific type of tree, as much as it was an opportunity for humanity to demonstrate their love to God by not eating it’s desirous fruit. It created for us the opportunity to choose to follow God. We should not sidetrack ourselves by determining what type of tree or fruti it was. The important thing was the spiritual command, not the physical tree.
In this garden was the birthplace of sin. When we choose to eat of that fruit, it was not eating the fruit that caused us to fall. If eating a particular fruit was a sin then the name and description of the fruit would be made clear so that we could avoid it. Just as we know that a person should avoid poison ivy, there are without a doubt very few of us who don’t have a mental picture of what poison ivy is. The sin was not in eating the fruit, the sin came in breaking the relationship.
Have you ever really considered the name given the tree "The knowledge of Good and evil" and asked how can this be? It came to be when man took of that fruit and discovered something he had never known before. He discovered shame, betrayal, disappointment, sorrow. He discovered the difference between good and evil because at that point our eyes were opened to something we had never seen before. Our eyes were open to sin. God then had to send man out of the garden to make sure that we did not take of the tree of life, and live forever in sin.