jesus the gardener: an easter sunday reflection
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “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.” 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 said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 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.’” Mary Magdalenewent and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
It is far too easy for us to overlook seemingly minor details in the biblical text. Perhaps this happens because we have become overfamiliar with the stories and no longer read them carefully, or because we have not been trained to pick up on subtlety.
Whatever the case, in John’s account of the Resurrection story such subtlety is apparent, though we must pay careful attention to perceive it.
Recounting the day of the Resurrection John opens his story, “Now on the first day of the week.”
Of what does that remind you in earlier biblical tradition?
This subtle little detail is John’s hint that this story shares some significance in light of the Genesis story.
Just as God began to create the world on the first day of the creation story in Genesis 1, so too is the world being re-created in the Resurrection of Jesus! It is the first day of the inauguration of the kingdom of God, of God’s planned renewal for all of creation.
Later in the episode Mary Magdalene mistakes Jesus to be a gardener. Or does she?
While in purely literal terms Jesus is no gardener, in another sense I think John is wanting to inject in this story another subtle allusion to the Genesis story. Like God, planting the earth and all that is within, and like Adam, charged with caring for the earth in those first chapters of Genesis, Jesus the cosmic gardener who is caring for the creation to bring it about anew.
Today, on Easter Sunday, we again celebrate it being the “first day of the week”. In the Resurrection we find that the cosmic gardener is truly vindicated by God, and that his mission, to cultivate the new creation, the kingdom of God on earth, is active in all the world.
Moreover this mission extends to us, we who have followed Jesus through death to life in the waters of baptism and in the life of discipleship.
He is risen!
Posted on April 8, 2012, in Biblical Studies, Current Events, Mission, New Testament and tagged Easter, Gardener, Genesis 1, Jesus, John 20, Kingdom of God, Resurrection. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.