“She, supposing him to be the gardener…” (John 20:15)
These words describe the reaction of Mary to the voice of Jesus in the garden surrounding the empty tomb on that first Easter morning. This was not the first time suppositions had been made concerning the Savior; we read of other occasions where assumptions had been made. There was a supposition concerning His ancestry—“Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph” (Luke 3:23). There was a supposition regarding His appearance—We read of the time when Jesus came walking on the water to join His disciples in the midst of the storm. “But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit” (Mark 6:49). And on this day, there was a supposition about His activity. Mary’s tears had blinded her to the truth that Jesus was alive. And if we are not careful, we too can allow tears to blind us to the truth.
And Mary, her eyes filled with tears, supposes that this is the gardener speaking to her, but before we criticize her, let’s ask, “Was she wrong?” Was this truly a gardener with whom she was speaking? In order to answer this question, let’s consider what the Scriptures have to say.
Think of the Designation. The first gardener who ever lived was a man named Adam. We read in Genesis 2:15: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” But in that great resurrection chapter of 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul wrote: “The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45). And so, Christ is called ‘the last Adam.’
Think of the Duty. What does a gardener do? He works in a garden. That was Adam’s job, “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). He was to work in that garden. Jesus Christ did a work in that garden where the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea was located. What Adam eventually did in his garden affected all mankind, and the work that the last Adam would do in His garden would likewise affect all mankind.
Think of the Difference. What a difference between the work performed in their respective gardens! While what the first Adam did caused a curse, what the last Adam did completed the cure! The first Adam entered his garden alive and walked out dead, but the last Adam entered His garden dead and walked out alive! When he left, the garden of the first Adam was closed; but after He left, the garden of the last Adam was open to all, and we are invited to “Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 28:6). The first Adam took a garden of glory and turned it into a place of gloom, but the last Adam took a garden of gloom and turned it into a place of glory!
I’m not sure if Mary was right or wrong, but I’m certainly thankful for what Jesus did in His garden!
Let’s go to our churches and cry aloud,
Let’s go to the marketplace and talk to the crowd,
Let’s go to the mission fields that lie up ahead,
And tell the whole world that “He didn’t stay dead!”
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Bro. Burcham serves as the Chairman of the Bible Department at Golden State Baptist College. Prior to coming to GSBC, he served as a missionary with his family in Japan for a number of years and then pastored in Missouri. Bro. Burcham also teaches an adult Sunday school class at NVBC.