John MacMurray

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Memories from a Garden

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Over the course of two millennia much of the human race has deemed Jesus' death and resurrection as just another historical anomaly. Oh, it caught our attention for a while—quite the uprising back in that day. But he eventually became irrelevant to us and so we banished him into obscurity reducing him to merely a guest appearance of a forgotten actor in a holiday that celebrates rabbits and chocolate.

It often appears there is very little in our world that bears witness to the reality of the power of resurrection. 

Yet, ever since the Garden of Eden, death has cast its shadow of terror across the hopes and dreams of a crippled race, enslaving humanity in a fear and bondage infinitely greater than any oppressor ever could. Like a contagious, incurable disease whose corruption is inescapable, death has spread from us to every living thing. For too long we have endured in this shadow world of fear, where even our best and greatest are reduced to futility, as death always proclaims the end of all things.

Why?

Why would we ignore something that promises such hope?

So much of our experience in this world rages against us—and often times it is quite convincing. It sneers at us hissing, “Look at our world. We still live in bondage to death, terrorized by its inevitability. Nothing has changed. Resurrection is a fairy tale for the weak of heart.” 

Is it?

For the men and women who followed the carpenter become rabbi the trauma of his sudden death had left them shocked, distraught, and overwhelmed. 

He was more than their teacher… He was their friend. He was their Lord.

It must have been like a ferocious punch to the stomach, the unexpected abruptness of it all ripping their breath away, leaving them reeling and gasping for meaning. Muted desperation was only thinly veiled behind closed doors and anxious questions…

How did this happen?

Why didn’t anyone step forward to defend him? 

Why didn’t we?

For three women in particular, the wounds inflicted by his death were too fresh for time to have begun mending. Hearts and minds were still in triage and numbness was their emotional morphine. Life had lost its color dissolving into a desolate, unearthly world of dull grey where hopelessness filled the air like smoke permeating and choking everything making even the smallest effort to move tedious. Days seemed like weeks as ever-present pain reminded them that fear lurks just beyond the next moment threatening to paralyze their lives forever. 

Supposing they could deaden the sting of their anguish they turned to routine to replace the joy stolen by the cruelty of their Lord’s death—wishing desperately that somehow a return to “normal” would distract them from their sorrow and the crushing weight of their grief. Routine may come easy, normalcy…not so much. 

 And so they began that sabbath day, like every day, with a routine walk. But it was far from normal. Preoccupied with the burden of loss they carried, they moved slowly and sullenly, more out of necessity rather than joy. Gone was the “spring” in their pace. Their walk would end in the garden where their hope ended and now lies buried. They intended to add fresh spices for his body… and maybe find solace lingering there. 

How could they possibly know that this day would be unlike any day in the history of the human race?

How could they have known that everything was about to change? 

 

Imagine . . .

The dew is glistening like rare jewels on the garden landscape announcing the Dawn of a New Day . . .

All is still, hinting of Peace approaching the eastern horizon. . . 

Darkness retreats allowing the long shadows to dance as first light filters through the morning air. . .

Air that is fragrant with life gently stirs as birds join the renewed chords playing to the Rising of the Son. . .

After the cataclysmic devastation of Adam’s disobedience in the garden it is fitting that God would stage the coronation of Love and Life in another garden… 

 

In this garden fear and shame have been banished. Hope has been restored. Anger and bitterness, humiliation and pain have been healed. Death has been stripped of its power, never to twist or steal the dreams of his people ever again. Humanity has been set free— freed from fear and death.

 

This was the declaration of our dependence. 

 

His Resurrection is humanity’s anchor of hope in a world that seems to have barely noticed that God dwelt with and in us. It is the exclamation point to the truthfulness of the good news that God became enfleshed to heal our brokenness. 

The Everlasting One who went down in death is alive. The crucified God has risen! Death could not hold him.  

He shattered its grip on all things and has overthrown its dominion forever! 

 

Wisdom whispers to us, “Maybe it’s time to visit the garden yet again.” 

Sound words.

If we do, I believe we will encounter the power and transcendence of the resurrected God-Man. 

John MacMurray1 Comment