Did you ever wonder why Jesus was supposed to be a Gardener that day outside the tomb?
Of all the professions of men his identity that Resurrection Day was seen to a woman as a Gardener, Why?
In the Gospel of John we can see there is something special about Mary from Magdalene from her posture at the tomb. When the other disciples “went back to their homes… Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.” Could it be that her heart was in a different place than the others? “When she stooped to look inside the tomb,… she saw two angels(!)” Could it be that her vision for the unseen was sharper than the other two disciples who had just entered the tomb themselves and saw only the linen cloth?
“Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” The last time a woman named Mary spoke to an angel something miraculous happened. Did something miraculous happen that Day inside the tomb beyond the obvious rising of the dead?
“Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
Jesus’ first words of Resurrection life are something to be pondered by us all. Why do we weep? Who is it that we seek? Are we seeking after a man who has died, the son of a Carpenter from Nazareth whose body could be stolen because he is nothing more than dust; or are we seeking after the Son of the Living God, a living spirit whose body can be raised from the dust because he is a Son of a Gardener who planted the Heavens and the Earth!
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).” The Gardener is not just here to tend the garden of our souls but to teach us how to tend to it for ourselves and for others, to protect it and to multiply it and subdue all the earth. He reminds us of this mission by calling us by name that our eyes might be opened to remember whom it is that we are seeking and for what purpose we each have been called.
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Something miraculous did occur that day inside the tomb with Mary and the angels. Just as the Annunciation in the Garden with the Virgin Mary pointed to the spousal union between the Holy Spirit and the woman, the resurrected Son of the Gardener now points us to our spousal union with the Father as the Bridegroom’s Bride. Like the offering of the Omer instituted in the Old Testament, Jesus must first be offered to God without blemish as a first fruit of his kind before he can be touched. His command not to cling to him yet, a foreshadowing of the Bride awaiting consummation with the Son so that through the Bridegroom we can become one with the Father, as it was in the beginning. After his ascension, the betrothal is complete. The Father accepts the Bride of his son. His Father is now our Father. Humanity has been restored to its rightful place, and it’s full inheritance. Hallelujah! It is finished!
Jesus says to the woman, “…go to my brothers and say to them… .” In saying this, Jesus makes Mary a sent one. Like the gentile woman at the well who had her eyes open by the Rabbi, she too, a Jewish woman inside the tomb, has had her eyes opened to the Teacher. But the Gardener is not just opening her eyes, he is restoring to Woman her rightful place in the Garden. By telling her to “go to my brothers and say,” the Lord is restoring to the woman her dis-Grace from that day in the original Garden. In the light of the new grace, Jesus makes the woman, as the church calls her today, an Apostle to the Apostles. She is commanded to go and testify, she is a sent one, an Apostle, to Man. Jesus is showing that the relationship of man and woman has been restored – she is once more the reflection of the Shekinah grace of God – the Helpmate of mankind.
“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” Ladies, we have been given permission along with Mary to announce to our brothers what we have seen! The intent of John’s Gospel in this passage is more than meets the eye and it’s precisely why it’s here – because woman has always been given a special gift to see the unseen, to birth the invisible for all men to see.
This last recorded exchange in scripture between woman and angel is a significant one for man and woman to ponder together. Woman, why do you weep? Has not everything been restored to you! No wonder the woman sees Jesus as the Gardener that day, it’s the one place her soul has been longing to return to since the day of her exile, a time when she would walk with him once more in the cool of the day. No wonder she has stayed behind to weep. She fears what she had hoped for has not come to pass. And then the Gardner appears. It is the time of her fulfillment, the end of her discipline for that day with the serpent. Today, the Lord has vindicated her! Today, she has been set free from the disdain of her deception. She has risen with Him, a new Eve.
The encounter at the tomb is quite possibly the most significant moment of post resurrection life in the gospel with exception of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The first words of the Risen Christ mark the tipping point for humanity. The curse of the Garden has been lifted. Everything has been unbound. Like the Israelites counting the days of the Omer in preparation for receiving the Torah (the Word of God in the Law & Prophets), the woman was counting the days until her restoration in the Living Word of God. (Mary would have quite literally been doing this as it was the custom at the time of Jesus for Jews to Count the Omer from Passover to Shavu’ot, the time of Jesus’ death until Pentecost.) But like Mary, we could be in danger of missing it all together if we too have not been counting the days toward our encounter with the Gardner. Have we prepared our hearts for the fullness of the Omer which Christ has given us? Are we ready to stop weeping and “go and say”?
The measure by which we prepare our hearts to encounter the living Lord is the measure by which we are free to receive him. Jesus gave of himself completely, totally that we might have access to the full measure of grace. He broke the power of sin and death that we might keep ourselves free from bondage to it by keeping our hearts continually recalibrated to him in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. To all those who will wait by the tomb and seek him, he will show himself the Gardener of their souls.
May we have the grace to walk out this restoration life by the power of Christ’s resurrection and the demonstration of the Holy Spirit at work in us, together as brothers and sisters, man and woman, side-by-side.
Until the Day Dawns and the Shadows Flee,
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Christians know Christ gave us the victory over death and the law (Galatians 5:1), but we also know we have an enemy intent on keeping us from walking in it. Counting the Omer gives us pause to consider how we are walking out our Triumph. We give Christ 40 Days to prepare ourselves for the Gift of His Cross (Salvation & Grace), God asks us to give Him 50 Days to prepare for receiving the Gift of His Spirit (Power & Might).
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