Today I want us to look at an attribute of God to help us see what He is trying to do in the lives of every Christian, every day. Today, I want you to consider God as “The Gardener”. In Exodus 2:15 (NIV) we read “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it”. That simple verse may not seem like much to us when we first read it but I want you to consider a few things with it. One, God puts Adam in a garden and tells him to take care of it. In other words, Adam, you are to be a gardener in this perfect Garden I have created and placed you in. You are to care for it and keep it fruitful and enjoy everything in it except for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:17). Second, whose image was Adam made in? He was made in God’s image so in essence, God is a gardener.
You may say, that is taking things a little out of context or stretching things to far Greg. Well, let us consider another passage. In John 15:1 (NIV) we read where Jesus states the following: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener”. Here we see that Jesus calls His Father “The Gardener”. Some translations read “vine dresser”, “master gardener”, etc. Jesus then goes further in the next few verses of John 15 to describe the workings of a gardener, the vine in the garden and the fruit of that vine. It is a very powerful passage that we will look at in a future lesson as we explore the seven “I AM” declarations from Jesus in the book of John.
Next, where was Jesus when He was at His highest point of stress and actually sweating blood on the last night with His disciples before being arrested and then crucified? He was in a garden, praying and preparing Himself for what was about to occur with His arrest, trial, scourging, crucifixion and worst of all, being separated or forsaken by His Father for the first time ever from the dawning of time. Jesus, at the ultimate point of stress, seeks to in essence go back to His roots; He goes into a garden.
Next, when Jesus is crucified and His body is taken down and carried to a tomb to be buried, where was the tomb located? It was a garden tomb. Our Lord’s physical body was laid to rest in a tomb inside a garden.
Next, when our Lord arose from the dead and presented Himself for the first time, He did so to Mary Magdalene. And where was Jesus? He was outside this garden tomb. And who did Mary think Jesus was? John 20:15 (NIV) gives us the following passage: “He asked her, woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for? Thinking He was the gardener, she said, Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.” Here we see Jesus first appearing, not to His disciples, but to Mary Magdalene and He appears first “in a garden” and very much appears as a gardener. I wonder what He was doing that made Mary think He was the gardener? Jesus and the Father are both very much gardeners.
Adam was placed in a perfect garden and was there to simply work it and care for it. Genesis 3 shows us how Adam sinned against the one that created the garden in the first place. Due to that sin, Adam’s role became much harder and no longer a pure joy and delight as it was before. It would require the sweat of his brow going forward because the ground was now cursed due to Adam’s sin. It would only produce food for man through painful toil. This once blessed garden soil would now produce thorns and thistles amongst the desired fruit. (Genesis 3:17-19).
But God could not and would not give up on His creation. He could not and would not forsake who He was. God is a gardener. The first Adam failed at his job. God had to come into the garden Himself to restore, and not just restore, but ultimately glorify it. God did this by sending His Son, the second Adam at the appointed time (Romans 5:14-21; 1 Corinthians 15:22 and 15:45).
Adam first sinned in a garden thus causing all humanity to be born in a state of being “lost” and in “bondage”. Jesus begins His great passion in a garden, beginning the restoration of all that occurred when Adam sinned. As Charles Spurgeon noted in one of his sermons, “it was in a garden that Adam’s self-indulgence ruined us, so in another garden the agonies of the second Adam should restore us”.
The book of Romans and chapter 11 tells us of another instance of God being a gardener. Here, Paul explains to us that due to what Jesus did all now have access to God, both Jews and Gentiles. Paul uses the example of a single olive tree. The tree was almost barren and about dead. Paul knew that horticulturist of that time for the vast olive groves that existed would use something they had learned through the years to kickstart that tree back to fruitfulness. The gardener in charge of the trees would graft in a branch from a fruitful tree. That action would in essence kickstart the entire tree over time, bringing life and fruitfulness back to it. Paul describes the young church, being filled with Gentiles, as this new and wild olive branch that is grafted into the one true olive tree, the tree comprised of those under God’s original covenant of grace, a covenant introduced way back in Genesis, even earlier than with Abraham. This young and vibrant church that is receiving the Good News of Jesus Christ and rejoicing in it, in essence kickstarts this one tree, this only tree, this one tree which is the New Testament Israel. Paul even describes the Gentiles that are saved as now having gained “citizenship in Israel” in Ephesians 2:12. There is not a Gentile olive tree and an Israel olive tree. There is only one tree. Romans 11 is a very powerful passage from a very powerful book in the Bible. This passage shows that the full measure of all of His children – Jew and Gentile, every one of them, is a part of this single tree and that Jesus alone is the one making it fruitful by the finished work of Jesus Christ. God, my dear brothers and sisters, is a gardener!
In the closing scenes of the last book of the Bible and the last chapter of Revelation, we are told three separate times of “the tree of life”. That tree of life is in the midst of “The Holy City”, the new Jerusalem. Where was the original tree of life? It was in that first garden. Adam and Eve partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As God expelled them from the garden, He left a flaming sword to guard the way back into the garden to prevent them from eating of another, specific tree in the garden. That tree was “the tree of life” (Genesis 3:23-24).
From the first of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation, God shows Himself to be a gardener. May this enhance or if needed, change how you look at our Father. Jesus has given us “The Word” which He Himself told us in Matthew 13 is the seed which is sown into this world, “His Garden”. Those that are His children will receive The Word in our hearts. The seed that sprouts and comes up is meant to produce fruit. Some who are Christians - Children of God, may go through unfruitful times but that is when the Gardener removes those hindering and unfruitful parts of your life, tossing them into the fire to rid you of them, so that you may become more fruitful as described in John 15. He is constantly pruning those who are His children. He is constantly lifting you up, out of the dirt, propping up your limbs so the animals cannot steal your fruit (Song of Songs 2:15), trying to help you become as fruitful as possible. A gardener does not destroy or damage his garden and plants. A gardener is constantly trying to make it more beautiful and more fruitful.
May you long to go to the One who tends and tills the soil of our souls. We Christians are a garden to our Father God and as our heavenly Gardener, He cultivates the sweet fruit of the Gospel in us. Get in God’s Word and stay plugged into the true vine.
Look to your Gardener today, the one who longs to lift you up and make you more fruitful!