Summary: Could it be that Jesus’ resurrections was meant to not only give hope to humanity but also to the rest of his creations?
I want to begin this morning in John 20.
John 20 is text that we most commonly read on Easter Sunday. It is John’s account of Jesus’ resurrection.
In John chapter 20, we have Mary Magdalene going to the tomb where Jesus was buried early in the morning to anoint the dead body of Jesus with burial spices.
But as you know, there was no body to be found that day.
Simon Peter and another disciple were with her and upon seeing no body of Jesus; they took off leaving Mary all by herself outside the tomb crying.
Suddenly two angels appear and ask her, what’s wrong. "Why are you crying?"
"They have taken my Lord away," Mary replies, "and I don’t know where they have put him." (v. 13)
Following this statement, Mary turns and sees a man. And the man says, "Woman why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"
And John writes,
"Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you’ve carried him away, tell me where you’ve put him and I will get him." (v. 15)
This is where I want to begin this morning. I want us to begin with Mary’s thoughts about this man to whom she said those words. This man whom she thought was the gardener.
v. 15b, "Thinking he was the gardener."
Now the obvious question is, why would Mary think Jesus was a gardener?
John tells us in. 38 that a man named Joseph of Arimathea came and took Jesus dead body and along with Nicodemus prepared Jesus’ body for burial and in verse 41 and 42 we read,
"At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there."
Joseph and Nicodemus place Jesus’ body in a tomb and this tomb was in a Garden.
So 3 days later when Mary gets up early, while it was still dark, while there was dew on the ground, she makes her way to the Garden where Jesus’ tomb was.
And when in the unexpected events of that resurrection morning, she sees and hears a man with her in the Garden, her first instinct is to think that the man to whom she spoke was the Gardener.
The one who took care of the Garden.
The one who weeded
And watered the plants in that Garden.
But she was wrong. He wasn’t the Gardener. He was Jesus, her resurrected Lord and Savior.
The question I want to pose is why would John include in these verses about Jesus’ resurrection that phrase about Mary,
"Thinking he was the gardener."
Why would John tell us this?
Who cares who Mary thought the man was?
And why does it matter that John tells us that she thought Jesus was the gardener in the garden where Jesus’ tomb was?
Jewish writers like John did things like this quite frequently in their writings. They would write in details – details with seemingly no meaning- but upon further study, they were meant to help the reader get at the meaning in a text.
Let me give you an example:
The 1st time John writes the word love is in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world . . ." When we dig into this text, we discover that the very first time love is mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis 22 when God tells Abraham to take, “your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love” and offer him as a sacrifice.
John is doing something intentional. He wants his reading to see a connection between Abraham and his son Isaac and God and his son Jesus.
So back to our text. When John tells us that Mary mistakes Jesus for a gardener, John’s initial readers would instinctively, automatically think – That’s weird, why would John write that and then they would pause to think – "is John hinting at something?" "Where do we first have the word Garden in the Bible." And the people would say Genesis 2 – the Garden of Eden.
And what happens there? People choose to disobey God – live outside of his way and they end up losing their place in the garden.
A death comes upon them.
So when John tells us Jesus is buried in a garden tomb (19:41-42). And when John tells us that Mary thought Jesus was a gardener (20:15) John wants us to see a connection between the Garden of Eden and Jesus rising from the dead in a garden.
There is a new Adam on the scene and he is reversing the curse of death by conquering it . . . in a Garden.