Mistaken for a Gardener

Author: Jacob Bier — Host: Dylan KraayenbrinkPosted on: April 1, 2024

Unlocked: Daily Devotions for Teens
Unlocked: Daily Devotions for Teens
Mistaken for a Gardener

READ: MATTHEW 13:1-9; JOHN 15:1-17; 19:41–20:18

John 20 contains one of my favorite scenes in all of Scripture. On Easter Sunday, Jesus’s disciples discovered His tomb was empty, but they had not yet seen the risen Lord. They were probably confused and concerned, suspicious that something terrible had happened.

In the midst of all this confusion, Mary Magdalene began to weep, unable to leave the empty tomb. After all the agony and heartbreak of Jesus’s crucifixion, the disappearance of His body must have felt like adding insult to injury. When Mary finally turned to leave, she nearly bumped right into Jesus. Overwhelmed by grief, she didn’t even recognize Him but mistook Him for the gardener! In His characteristically gentle way, Jesus revealed Himself to her and sent her to tell the other disciples what she had seen.

As it turns out, Mary’s mistake is rich in biblical imagery that tells us more about who Jesus really is. Scripture is full of references to gardening, going way back to Eden. When God created the heavens and the earth, He planted the garden of Eden and placed people in it “to tend and watch over it” (Genesis 2:8-23). Many of Jesus’s parables depict God’s kingdom as a garden or field. Jesus Himself is the farmer who plants good seed that yields a great harvest, He is the true vine, and He is the first fruits of the harvest of the resurrection. Even now, He is like a gardener tending over His crop, producing in us the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-25).

Given all this biblical imagery, maybe Mary’s mistake wasn’t so silly after all. The image of Jesus as gardener is a powerful symbol that reveals more about who Jesus is and what He wants to do in our lives. Because of His death and resurrection, we can grow and flourish in the way God intended. • Jacob Bier

• How do you think Mary felt when she realized that the “gardener” was really Jesus?

• How does the Bible use garden imagery to speak about spiritual things? How does Jesus act like a gardener today? Consider taking some time to reread today’s Bible passages and write down what sticks out to you. (If you want to dig deeper, you can also read Matthew 13; Romans 7:4-6; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23.

“Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. John 20:15a (NLT)