God created the first garden in Eden … the first of many gardens described in the Bible. It was a beautiful shelter with trees, vines, fragrant herbs and plants with running streams; all perfect elements of his master design. He gave man a free will, and we know the result was Adam and Eve making the choice to disobey God in that perfect place he had created for them. That wasn’t the end of the story, and another garden will become a pivotal moment in human history.

In John 20 we find Mary Magdalene weeping over the loss of her beloved teacher, friend and rescuer, Jesus, in the garden of the tomb. She was devastated but Jesus understood her grief. He himself wept when he heard his friend Lazarus had died. (John 11:35) He wept in overwhelming grief over Jerusalem. (Luke 19:41) He wept in the Garden of Gethsemane out of unspeakable love for man and in deep sorrow over the cost of man’s sin. (Luke 22:44) Jesus understood her grief and sorrow.

Suddenly a gentle voice says to Mary, “why are you crying and who are you looking for?” And we don’t know exactly why she didn’t recognize his voice—maybe her eyes were swollen and blurred with tears, and her grief was so all-consuming that she couldn’t see or even hear clearly. We just know  that she thought her Lord was the gardener. WHAT? How could Mary, who was so close to Jesus, not recognize her teacher and best friend? Then Jesus speaks her name, “Mary” she turns to him in sudden joy, recognizes him and cries out “Rabboni!” He knows each of us by name! He knew you before you were knit together in the womb. (Psalm 139:15-16) Isaiah 43:1 says “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

Gardeners know that if they want fruit trees or rose bushes to yield more fruit or have bigger blooms, they have to be pruned. We have to cut off the old branches and dead blooms in the right season. In the spring they will come back even stronger, yielding more fruit and the roses will have bigger blooms. In the same way God, the Master Gardener, allows seasons of pruning in our lives, like the uncertain, challenging time we’re going through now. He fully understands our feelings of sorrow, fear, and loss, but asks us to trust him through it all as he gives us comfort and strength each day and turns our sorrow into joy.

Ask yourself these questions today:

What am I learning about myself in this season of pruning? What am I learning about the One who calls me by name? Spend time soaking in His presence and deep love for you today as you read through John 20.

By Deb Hill
Executive Administrative Assistant

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