Preaching and Worship Resources about Garden
Gardens are plots of irrigated fertile ground that typically produce fruit, vegetables, or herbs.
"And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gen. 2:8 - 9).
"The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, `You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die" (Gen. 2:15 - 17).
"When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate" (Gen. 3:6).
"[God] drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life" (Gen. 3:24)
"They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light" (Ps. 36:8 - 9).
"By the rivers of Babylon — there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion" (Ps. 137:1).
". . . [Y]ou shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail" (Isa. 58:11).
"I struck you with blight and mildew; I laid waste your gardens and your vineyards; the locust devoured your fig trees and your olive trees; yet you did not return to me, says the Lord" (Amos 4:9).
"[Jesus and his disciples] went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, `Sit here while I pray.' He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, `I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.' And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, `Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want'" (Mark 14:32 - 36).
"Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there" (John 19:41 - 42).
"Jesus said to her, `Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?' Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, `Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.' Jesus said to her, `Mary!' She turned and said to him in Hebrew, `Rabbouni!' (which means Teacher)" (John 20:15 - 16).
"I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev. 21:2).
"The angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations" (Rev. 22:1 - 2).
Points to Ponder
Gardens in Scripture are irrigated and fertile places. Good things grow in them, including fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Sometimes the Hebrew word we translate as "garden" might just as well be translated as "orchard." So a Middle Eastern olive orchard is a garden, featuring trees with both flowers and fruit.
Flourishing gardens become symbols of the thriving of God's people Gardens generate food, but they are also delightful places to dwell. They are centers of outdoor living, good for strolling, lounging, banqueting, or shading oneself from the Middle Eastern sun. They are also quiet, restful places to bury family members. Because of these benefits, flourishing gardens become symbols of the thriving of God's people (Isa. 58:11) and devastated gardens become the symbol of God's people under judgment (Amos 4:9). (R. K. Harrison, "Garden," The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Vol. 2, Eerdmans, 1982, p. 400.)
The narrative arc of Scripture as the story of four gardens Christians commonly describe the narrative arc of Scripture as the linked sequence of its four epic movements: creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. This standard account is classic and firm. But we might just as well describe the narrative arc of Scripture as the story of four gardens.
In the Garden of Eden, God gave his brand-new human beings acres of delight. God had formed a man from the dust of the ground, breathing life into him, setting him in a flourishing garden. The garden is a wonder, with rhododendron blossoms the size of softballs and peonies pink and fragrant enough to break your heart. But the garden of delight turns into the garden of heartbreak when Adam and Eve step out of the embrace of God and try to find power and happiness on their own. Guilty, threadbare, and vulnerable, they start the history of human shame whose only antidote is the grace of God. In their shame, Adam and Eve must also have begun the history of weeping for lost glory as they are banished. In this history, the Israelites exiled to Babylon sat down by the rivers of Babylon and wept when they remembered Zion.
The Garden of Gethsemane, widely thought to have been an olive orchard at the foot of the Mount of Olives, was the scene of Jesus's pre-crucifixion agony. He wrestles with the will of his father and with the horror of drinking the cup of suffering in front of him. Jesus knew what a Roman crucifixion looked like and sounded like. He naturally dreaded it. But he still drank the cup down to its dregs because there was no other way to save the people he and his father loved.
The garden of the resurrrection According to John 19, Jesus's crucified body was laid in a new tomb in a garden. So this garden became the scene of the central event of the Christian religion and of human history. "On the third day he rose again from the dead." This was not the resurrection of faith in the disciples, or of hope in the women at the tomb, or of tulips in spring, but the coming back to life of a horribly dead Jesus. The news of this event has straightened Christian spines for all these centuries. "The Lord is risen." If sin first showed up in a garden, how fitting that resurrection should too!
The narrative arc of redemptive history begins in Eden, runs through Gethsemane and the resurrection garden, and then ends in the garden of the city of God. It's a city because it contains cultural treasures of the ages, including urban architectural treasures. But it's also a gloriously watered garden with trees whose leaves are "for the healing of the nations." The story of four gardens ends with the city of God descending to us and, once more, God dwelling with his people in a garden of delight.
|Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.|