Many years ago, when I was a little girl, my mother shared with me her love for the famous hymn “In The Garden.” It is a timeless hymn about Jesus walking in the garden with someone. The famous refrain, “He walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am his own, and the joy we share as we tarry there no one has ever known.” Watching my mom’s face as she sang this song afforded me the ability to think of Jesus walking and talking with my mother and that they were friends. At a young age, I saw this friendship and I wanted it.

I recently learned the background of this song. It was written about John 20, as Mary comes to the tomb to look for Jesus. At first, she thinks he is the gardener who has carried Jesus’ body away. She asks “this gardener” for the location of the body so she can go get Jesus. She completely doesn’t recognize the sound of his voice.

He responds by calling her name, “Mary.” “Rabboni!” she reverently exclaims as she then recognizes him. She actually is calling him “My Teacher.” In fact, the NIV Study Bible goes on to say that John was making it clear she was addressing Jesus as God. Could you imagine the emotions she was feeling as she saw him standing there? My guess would be a combined feeling of disbelief and sheer joy at his appearance.

It’s interesting that, back in Genesis, the creation story unfolds in a garden and God was interacting with Adam and Eve. After the fall, when they heard God walking in the garden, they hid in shame. Neil Anderson phrases it as “… the immediate emotional experience of being separated from God was fear.” The NIV Study Bible states that “… the garden was once a place of joy and fellowship with God, was now a place of hiding from God.”

This is quite the opposite scenario as Mary turns toward Jesus at the sound of his voice, particularly when he calls her by name. Mary went looking to find her Lord and responded to the sound of his voice when He did call her name. There are several times throughout the passage where it mentions that “she saw” and describes her posture as turning toward Jesus. Isn’t that something that we all long for? To hear him say our name? To know we are seen by him? To know that “We are his own.”

God’s Word speaks often of planting, weeding, plowing, pruning, fertilizing, sowing, reaping, and growing, to use a few “gardening” words. There are parables, psalms, and numerous Scriptures that teach us in detail how these words apply to our own lives. Mary’s initial thought about Jesus actually is true. He IS the Gardener! May we, too, tarry in His presence.

Tammy de Armas
EFCC Member

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