Ever wonder why Mary mistook Jesus for a gardener in the Bible’s account of the resurrection? Is this merely some odd and insignificant detail in Scripture?
Yet, no word of Scripture appears by accident. This detail is no exception. We’re intended to grasp a connection between the garden of Eden and Jesus rising from the dead in a garden. Jesus is reclaiming creation. The resurrection resets the world as Jesus inaugurates the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In his book Surprised by Hope, renowned New Testament scholar N.T. Wright observes, “The resurrection of Jesus is the reaffirmation of the goodness of creation.” God loaded the world with possibility and promise, the full potential of which was marred and diminished by our pride and disobedience. Now, God is restoring and renewing His plans for creation and putting the world back together through Jesus. Moreover, He’s invited us to join Him in unleashing creation’s potential...in overcoming evil with good!
Did you catch that? We get to join God in His effort to rebirth, regenerate and renew creation as He intends it to be! As we grow in love, freedom and generosity, we are invited to so much more than merely “saving souls” for some disembodied, ethereal ever-after. We get to join Him in His present work, in a taste of His coming Kingdom here and now, as we engage His more excellent way of love and “life that is truly life.”
Jesus is showing us that it is time to garden again, working to till the earth—to “fill the earth” with signposts to the Kingdom that began to spring to life that first Easter morning…with evidence of the hope we have because of Christ’s resurrection. Ultimately, this is our gift to the world around us...this remarkable hope. Not blind hope that pretends everything is fine, refusing to acknowledge difficulty and pain. But the kind of hope that comes from staring anguish and suffering square in the eyes and refusing to believe that this is all there is.
We don’t ignore the difficulties we face today...the grief, financial hardship, physical isolation, uncertainties in our future from COVID-19, but we cling to a deeper truth, to the hope we have in Jesus Christ...who overcame sin and suffering, even death Himself. He alone is able to help us right now. While we await His glorious return for the completion of His work in our world, we see the evidence of His power today.