Signs of Easter are everywhere. Yellow daffodils have sprung to life in our backyard. A riot of multicolored tulips lines the trail at the park. Redbuds and pear trees have dressed in purple and white for the occasion.
Snatches of “Was It a Morning Like This,” a popular Christian song from my teen years resound in my mind: “Did the grass sing? Did the Earth rejoice to feel you again? Over and over like a trumpet underground, did the Earth seem to pound, ‘He is risen’? Over and over in a never ending round, ‘He is risen. Alleluia.’”1 And so it is; the Earth rejoices in celebration of the Resurrection.
Easter and the Garden
At home last week, we began to read about the last days of Christ’s earthly ministry. With round eyes, my daughters listened to the story of Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple. We looked at pictures of coins and scales from Jesus’ day and talked about why people traveled to Jerusalem and exchanged their money.
My son was clearly preoccupied with other things. As a Challenge student, he is beginning to think a lot about words. As I read the first part of Luke 20, I watched him grow thoughtful. He listened intently to Jesus’ exchange with the chief priests and the teachers of the law:
“Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, John’s baptism—was it from heaven or from men?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven, he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” (Luke 20:2-8, NIV 1984)
When I asked him for his summary of the story, he replied simply, “Jesus was clever.” He intuitively recognized the power of unassailable logic. This is a good lesson for those who study logic and debate and for those who need to acknowledge Jesus’ authority.
In church on Sunday, my pastor read a list of contrasts between the Garden of Eden and the Garden of Gethsemane. There is rich symbolism here! The first man sinned in the garden and was cast out by the sword; the Son of Man paid for sins after a night of fervent prayer. Like Adam, he left the garden by the sword (this time by the sword of the Roman legion). Unlike Adam, He left willingly after surrendering His will.
Symbolism of the Garden in Literature
In Challenge III this year, we have talked at length about the symbolism of gardens in literature. In Henry V, France is a ruined garden after the English invasion. Ruined gardens symbolize the chaos of a fallen society. In Hamlet, the murder of Hamlet’s father takes place in a garden. The murderer, the king’s brother, pours poison in the king’s ear as he sleeps. The murder stands in ugly contrast to a king peacefully sleeping in his beautiful garden. These images of ruined gardens remind us of the tragedy of the Fall, that things are not as they should be.
In Milton’s epic poem; Paradise Lost, he describes the beauty and wonder of the creation of Eden. He masterfully recreates the serpent lurking in the garden and leading Eve and then Adam astray, and he recreates the poignant tragedy of their expulsion from the garden. Then comes Milton’s next epic—Paradise Regained. Interestingly, in Milton’s account, paradise is not restored on the cross or at the moment of the Resurrection. Instead, the climax results from Jesus’ successful refutation of Satan’s temptations; where Adam failed, the Son of Man triumphs.
As I ponder these gardens, I think the climax could also be located in the Garden of Gethsemane as the Savior fervently prayed: “’Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’. . . And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44, NIV 1984). In a garden, He submitted to the Father’s will. By His anguish and submission, He bought my soul.
Easter: Hope of the Garden Repaired
On Good Friday, I will go with my family to a local church which displays events that took place during the week prior to Jesus’ crucifixion. Together we will touch the coins for which He was betrayed, smell the perfumes that anointed His body, receive communion, touch the torn curtain of the temple, and kneel to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. Finally, we will write our sins on a black scrap of paper and nail it to the cross. Then, on Sunday, we will celebrate.
Easter reminds us of the hope we have for the garden’s repair. Spring gives us a few glimpses of what that glorious garden will be like. And on Sunday, we will imagine what it will be like when the grass sings and the Earth rejoices in the presence of the Savior.
This article was originally written by Jennifer Courtney and published on April 3, 2012.