Growing up in church, it became obvious to me that women should stay out of gardens. Preachers would make jokes about how Eve screwed it up for all of humanity in a garden. This led to people talking about how a woman was the first sinner. (Her husband being equally as guilty seemed beside the point.) And then it led to more jokes about women and gardens and meals and passive aggressive male headship.
Blah blah, yackety yack,
corny jokes, corny jokes.
Moral of the story I picked up as a kid?
People were sinners.
The subtext of the story I picked up as a kid?
Women should probably stay away from gardens.
But according to Jesus, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, it was in a garden that the first person beholds the Resurrected Christ. And she happens to be a woman.
John 20 says that Mary Magdalene is the first person ever to see Jesus alive after the crucifixion. This should be shocking to us. Conventional wisdom would seem to say that Jesus should appear to the dudes first. The guys who had become His disciples. The men whose testimony would have been admissible in a court of law.
But Jesus, as usual, busts convention over the head. He appears, not to those whom His society would deem most important, but to a woman. Jesus then gives her a greater purpose.
Go and tell.
The redemption is beautifully overwhelming. And it’s not just beautiful for women. It’s beautiful for all of us. Men, women, children. Black, white, brown. Republican, democrat, depressedocran.
Mary is a stand-in for all of humanity. She represents everyone who has been told they couldn’t enter the garden because of past sin. Whether that sin was their own or passed down to them doesn’t matter. Jesus appearing to Mary in the garden is the first sign that He has fixed what we broke where we broke it.
It’s an incredible picture of Jesus meeting us in the very place where others have shamed us. Where others have reminded us of past failures and mistakes and missed opportunities. Where others have locked the gates and said we don’t belong.
In the final weeks of Lent, pray that you might find Jesus in your own personal garden. Because He’s waiting for you there. And He’s ready to call out your name.