Friday, April 22, 2011

The Heavenly Gardener: A Good Friday Reflection

Today is Good Friday, the day Christians remember the suffering and death of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today is also Earth Day.
When I first realized this coincidence, I found it a little disappointing.  I like Earth Day.  It’s a nice day to remember to care for God’s creation, and I happen to be one of those people who can get excited about “going green.” So when I first noticed that Good Friday and Earth Day shared a square on my calendar I found it rather unfortunate.  I can’t celebrate Earth Day on Good Friday!  Good Friday has to take precedence here!
But as we studied the book of John throughout the season of Lent, I came to see this coincidence a little more fondly.  It was because God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, not to condemn the world, but to save it!
John’s story of Jesus takes us all the way back to the Garden of Eden, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” John goes on to tell us that Jesus is the Messiah, the one sent by God, the one coming into the world.  
The one through whom all things were made would now be the one through whom all things were made new.
We tend to think of Jesus’ death in terms of Jesus and me.  It’s about my sin, my forgiveness, my salvation.  Of course, these things are true, but God’s saving work through Jesus Christ is so much bigger than that!  In Jesus, God was reconciling all of creation, making it new, ushering in the reign of His Kingdom.  Jesus was about God’s business of bringing heaven to earth.
In Jerusalem, as Jesus was approaching his death, he said to his disciples, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Jesus died on a cross and was buried in a tomb, a tomb that was in a garden. On the third day when Mary came to the tomb she found it empty.  Jesus had been risen from the dead, but before she realized that she actually saw Jesus and mistook him for the gardener!  What a revealing mistake. Jesus was the fleshly revelation of the Heavenly Gardener, the Giver of Life, the Creator.  Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God was bringing the fruit of new life for all of creation.
Today may we let Earth Day remind us that Good Friday is about more than Jesus and me. God’s salvation, through Jesus, is for the world – all people, all creatures, all things new.

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