John 19:41-42

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.

Of course it’s a garden.

We’ve seen at several points how John has not only interpreted the story of Jesus in light of the traditions of Israel, but how Israel’s Scriptures have actually shaped John’s telling of the story. Two of the key strands of Israel’s Scriptures that have influenced John have been the Passover and Exodus stories of God’s deliverance of Egypt from the oppression of Egypt and the Davidic stories, traditions, and Psalms connected with Israel’s greatest king.

But here at the end of the story, John takes us back to the beginning. And I mean, quite literally, the beginning…of both John’s account and of the whole of the biblical narrative. For John begins his gospel with a bravura few could rival, not just imitating but actually borrowing wholesale the first line of Genesis: “In the beginning….”

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep,” the storyteller behind Genesis records. And “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” proclaims John, taking us back to the beginning to profess that he was writing a new Genesis, an account of God’s re-creation of the world through Jesus.

And so his story naturally concludes at a garden, a garden that calls to mind that first garden, the garden of temptation and sin and fall from grace. Jesus is buried in a garden, in this garden, that we may know that in his death so also all our failure, disappointment, and brokenness is also buried. Where Adam failed, Jesus succeeded, and if Death thought it was taking Jesus into the ground for good, it really was taking Adam’s failure – our failures – into the ground instead.

Of course it ends in a garden, just where our story began. And, of course, it doesn’t really end here. As the drama and adventure of God’s re-creation of the heavens and the earth is actually just beginning….

Prayer: Dear God, let us remember and believe that in Jesus’ death you took all our sin, disappointment, and brokenness – all in short, that stands between us and abundant life – and buried it once and for all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.