April 04, 2021

Thinking He Was the Gardener

John 20:1-18

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him. . . .”

—  John 20:15

Can you think of a time when you were struggling and you simply needed to know some basic information about what was happening?

At the empty tomb, Mary was upset and confused, and she just needed to know where Jesus was. When “she turned around and saw Jesus standing there,” she didn’t realize it was him. She thought he was the gardener.

Gardeners or caretakers were probably known to be on-site in a graveyard like that one. I wonder, too, if perhaps John saw something important in this detail and included it as a reminder that Jesus the Savior is also the Creator of the world.

The opening lines of the gospel of John talk about creation and how Jesus, the Word (Logos), was actively involved. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made” (John 1:1-3; see Genesis 1:1-3). And near the end of this gospel account John includes this detail about Jesus as the gardener in the graveyard—perhaps to show that Jesus, who was with God at the beginning of creation, is now alive again and re-­creating the world. Jesus has been raised from the dead and is doing a new thing, gently tending to each living creature, bringing about renewal and healing for the entire creation.

When Jesus spoke Mary’s name, she knew exactly who he was, and she soon went to tell the others, “I have seen the Lord!”

Risen Lord and Savior, you call us by name and speak comfort and truth to us. Thank you for re-creating us. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Julia Prins Vanderveen

Julia Prins Vanderveen works and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband, Trevor, and their three sons. Julia has served as a copastor with Trevor at a church in Vancouver. She is a campus pastor and a humanities teacher at the Vancouver Christian School.

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