At lunch time today Tom and I attended a Good Friday service at our local church. The service included the reading of the story of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion from the gospel of John. What particularly struck me was the account of Jesus burial which tells us that Jesus body was laid in a new tomb in a nearby garden. It is planting time here in Seattle and so, not surprisingly, the imagery that came to my mind was of Jesus, like a seed of wheat, being planted in a garden, buried in the earth to await the birth of a new creation.
Far fetched you might think? Maybe not. Some theologians think that the whole theme of the Gospel of John is that of new creation. Most of the book of John (chapters 12-20) takes place during one week in the life of Christ. John concentrates on themes. One theme is that Christ will redeem all of Creation (not just souls) through Re-Creation. In many ways Jesus death was like the planting of a seed (Unless a seed is planted in the soil and dies it remains alone, but its death will produce many new seeds, a plentiful harvest of new lives (Jn 12:24). And then in John 20:15 we read: “she thought he was the gardener” Why did it matter that Mary Magdalene thought that Jesus was the gardener?
The gospel of John begins with the words “In the beginning”. This immediately harkens us to the book of Genesis which opens with the same words. John then lays out a series of events in the life of Christ that mirror the Seven Days of Creation. Read more
In the beginning God planted a garden – the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:8). In the beginning of the new creation brought into being by the resurrection of Christ God now in the form of the risen Christ, is once more seen as a gardener. The hope and promise of these words which we so often skim over is incredible. As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.”
So as we mourn the death of Christ today let us consider the hope that the planting of a seed gives us. It is but a dim mirror of the hope that resides in the Christ whose death we remember today and whose resurrection carries with us the promise of many lives renewed, restored and bearing fruit.