Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Garden Near Golgotha

I have taken a keen interest in the gospel of John lately which is mainly due to the fact that my church has been going through it. However one theme seems to run through it that I never picked up on before. It will be easiest for me to speak about the theme like this:

There sits on my desk a small pot. It is black with gold lettering. Inked in this gold lettering is the verse found in Romans 6, which says "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death in order that we too may live a new life". When I wrote this verse on pot (probably, some product of an school or church craft time), I thought it was comforting. A novel reminder of a life renewed in Christ, for just as He found himself emerging from the grave in the new garb of victory, so too are we promised to return with Him. Yeah totally... a pot...with dirt... a pot; a subtle reminder of a truth I didn't fully grasp.

Then I stumbled upon John 19, and I noticed something curious about the narration toward the end. At a lunch meeting with my pastor this week I made him chuckle with the description of John as the ancient minimalist, because he often only alludes to or leaves to subtext key information for deciphering the message of his gospel. With this in mind, when I got to the end of chapter 19 I knew something was up. John tells us that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, the secret friends of Christ, took charge of Jesus' corpse. They prepared it for burial, wrapped it, and then, interestingly, laid it in a garden near Golgotha. I knew John wouldn't have wasted the paper or ink to tell us that he was in a garden unless it were essential, and the words of Jesus, with the help of some friends who I later shared this with, came ringing back to me. He said that a seed could never grow unless it first was buried and died (slight paraphrase of John 12, obviously), and I began to see that John's emphasis on the location of Jesus' burial was no mere coincidence.

It was the only place, the garden that is, that was fitting for Him to be placed. It was the only venue conducive to His nature of new life. The same day that I began to wrestle with this passage, I came to my room and saw the pot. Wondering if it needed water, I peered into it and to my utter surprise there was a small sprout sticking up from the moistened soil; what once was buried and dead sprung into creation with new life and new vigor. It is only fitting that Christ was buried in the garden near Golgotha, for just as every new spring reaches forth and extracts from the ground the renewed life of creation, so too did the God of the universe embody His creation, defeat death, and burst from the ground with a herald of triumph, victory, and honor. Christ's three day germination signaled the beginning of new creation, bound His chosen to irrevocable life, and marked for eternity the end of despair.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

nice.

Jeff said...

Well done!

"Unless a seed dies it remains only a seed..."

How ought we to see the garden now? Do we live in a garden where we also may die?

PS-Matt, I'm going to give Brent your blog address to link it to whatisatlas.com