From John Zuhone
The Bible, from beginning to end, is a story about Jesus. In his Gospel, St. John is thinking about this big picture from the first chapter, when he weaves Jesus into Genesis 1: "In the beginning was the Word". The same "word", as today's Psalm says, that was "spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm". In John 20, the resurrection story is introduced with the words "on the first day of the week", another deliberate echo of the creation story. In the resurrection of Jesus, God is making all things new.
In our passage for today, John highlights a detail that at first glance seems incidental. Mary is by the tomb weeping when she is encountered by Jesus, who she does not recognize at first. John tells us that she "supposes him to be the gardener". What a strange little fact! Why the gardener? And why report such a seemingly meaningless detail?
The reality is that Mary was not far off the mark. In Genesis 2, God created man and woman and gave them a job--tending a garden. Adam and Eve were to be God's image-bearing agents in his good world, but when they fell into sin in Genesis 3 the relationships between God and humanity, between all people, and between people and creation became broken. God worked with humans through the ages to get the plan back on track, but no one was up to the job--they all suffered from the same sin as Adam and Eve. The creation project seems to have gone off the rails completely, and we see it vividly in our own struggles with sin, decay, and death.
As St. Paul tells us (Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15), Jesus is the second Adam, but where the first Adam failed, this Adam has succeeded by his perfect life, death, and resurrection. Jesus is the true Adam; the true Man himself. And indeed, he is the true Gardener, who is restoring God's good rule over his world. The project of creation has been put back on track, starting now with the redemption of men and women, and will culminate in the day when Jesus returns (Revelation 21). We can take comfort in this reality in the midst of our broken world: Jesus's resurrection is the proof that God is setting everything right.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia!
I’m an astrophysicist at the Harvard Observatory, studying galaxy clusters and X-ray astronomy. I enjoy spending time with my wife, having good conversation with friends, reading books, and playing the occasional Mario game.