Voices of Holy Week: The Gardener

Reading: John 20.11-18

It wasn’t unexpected. She would surely not recognise me. She would almost certainly think I was someone else. And anyway, the situation would not lend itself to understanding. Having come to the tomb to grieve, what a confusion it must have been to find the body she was looking for was not there. There would have to be some questions asked by anyone in that situation.

It’s impossible to imagine what it must have been like for the women during that time. They had been so dedicated, following along the road from the palace to the Skull, barely looking away for any time. The sorrow and pain must have been enormous. They’d seen where the body was laid, unlike most of the disciples who had disappeared. They had seen the damaged, blood stained body, and seen it wrapped up and placed in the tomb.

So to turn up after the holy day to find it empty, they must have thought the worse. Now there wasn’t even somewhere for them to turn, somewhere for them to remember their companion and friend. It can’t have been easy. The pain was raw, the loss enormous. ‘Where is his body?’ was a natural response. ‘Where have they taken him?’

She looked at me. She didn’t recognise me. I was just the gardener, a man who might know something, but I wasn’t one she knew. She was weeping. She wanted the body. She wanted to find where her Lord had been laid. She wanted the symbol of death, the symbol of dying, the symbol of persecution, the symbol of love lost and humanity destroyed. ‘Where is he?’ she asked.

One word was all she needed. ‘Mary!’ She instantly recognised. I just called her by name and she knew. She knew that her search was futile. She knew that looking for a body was no longer her need or want. She didn’t need to go to any more lengths to be reunited with the body of her Lord, for she stood in the presence of her Living Lord, no longer contained by death and the trappings of linen cloths. Instead, the Gardener opened for her the hope of a future without death, a future without dying, a future that transcends persecution, a future that is full of love and restores humanity. ‘I have seen the Lord’ she proclaimed.

From the garden to Emmaus, from the lakeside to the presence of a doubting disciple, the appearances of the gardener as their Lord gave the disciples the hope for the future. They could touch the wounds. They could eat broiled fish. They could share in broken bread. They could proclaim ‘My Lord and my God!’ Hands rough from the work of carpentry, pierced with the nails of death, now become the symbol of hope, the agents of blessing, of bread broken, of life renewed and restored.

In the garden, the tomb lay open, the stone rolled away. Death could not hold the Lord of life. Where can the Lord been found today?

Our journey continues in the celebration of Easter Day and Christ rising from the dead to bring us to salvation. Join us at 06:30am in The Panama Dip on Whitley Bay links for our sunrise service and from 11:00am for our Easter Day service with Holy Communion.

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