Summary: Love is present in three Biblical gardens.
Gardening for some people is a pleasant pastime. For others it is a passion.
This morning I brought in some things that can be grown in a garden - fruit and some that are not grown in a garden -junk food. Let’s take a moment to compare these items: (Overhead 1)
Fruit is natural.
Fruit comes with a natural packaging.
Fruit does not come with a label listing a dozen or so ingredients and/or preservatives.
Fruit, when properly grown and cared for, can be eaten as soon as it is picked.
Junk Food is a creation.
Junk Food contains lots of sugar.
Junk Food is quick, easy, and convenient.
Junk Food is usually packaged.
There are two ideas I have this morning that tie into this idea of growth and gardens. One is the importance of fruit not just in our diet but also in our lives.
In the Bible, fruit is a metaphor for our character. Jesus made that clear in Matthew 7:20 when He said, “Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced.”
This fall we are spending time looking at important fruits – the fruits of the Spirit. Here they are: (Overhead 2) Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are qualities and characteristics that must be a part of our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. They are also one of the ways that we fulfill our vision of being a fully following church.
We begin this morning with what I believe is the foundational fruit – Love.
As John would write late in his life, God is love. Jesus, as we saw this summer in John 3, let it be know that God was motivated by love in His plan for our salvation.
Love is a critical element in God’s plan and that is why I believe that it is the first fruit mentioned. Jesus states in His comments to the disciples prior to His death that evidence of their love for Him bears fruit in obedience to both the Father and the Spirit. And we are reminded of Christ’s example of love and obedience as we celebrate communion this day.
The other stream of thought deals with gardens and the soil of our souls. In the Bible there are 3 gardens that we simply need to take note of this morning as we prepare for communion.
The first is the Garden of Eden as described in Genesis 2:8-9:
Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he placed the man he had created. 9 And the LORD God planted all sorts of trees in the garden—beautiful trees that produced delicious fruit. At the center of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The second is the garden of the New Jerusalem as described by John in Revelation 22:1-2:
And the angel showed me a pure river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 coursing down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.
The final garden that we need to acknowledge today is the Garden of Gethsemane as recorded in Luke 22:39-46:
Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. 40 There he told them, “Pray that you will not be overcome by temptation.”
41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.” 43Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. 44 He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. 45At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked. “Get up and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you.”
What is common to each of these gardens? Love. (Overhead 3) Love grows in the Garden of Eden because as we go on to read, God takes delight in Adam and Eve and provides them a magnificent place of existence because He loves them.
We see love in the New Jerusalem. Christ has returned, the Evil One has been dealt with. In place of disobedience, in place of anger, in place of injustice, and in place of sin, love reigns supreme! And this love is now expressed in face-to-face terms.