Spring Is In The Air
One fact about the Resurrection of Jesus, that is often overlooked, is that it takes place in a garden. And this has tremendous significance. Through Jesus Resurrection, a new season has set in, God is redeeming the world and has reversed the curse of Eden.
Near the hill where Jesus was crucified was a garden and there was a tomb carved out in the rocks that belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. The last verses of the 19th chapter in the Gospel of John state that this is where Jesus was laid.
The next day, after discovering that the tomb is empty, Mary, through her tear-blurred eyes, mistakes Jesus for the gardener. When Jesus calls her name, she immediately recognizes His voice and responds: Rabboni!
A Spring Garden
The resurrection takes place in a garden, because from this place, God is restoring the world to the beauty of the Garden of Eden. The curse is reversed, death no longer rules, a new season has started. A new reality has set in.
I love this idea of a garden in the early Spring. Don’t you just love this season? It’s those first days when the thermometer hits 20 degrees Celsius again, and the sun is shining. Somehow, your soul awakens and you realise that life is good. Right? You feel this happiness and cheerfulness swelling up in you, and you realise how long it was since that last happened. Slowly, but surely, the Autumn and Winter have dragged your mood down. But when Spring hits, new life awakens inside of you.
Look out of the window and check out the trees. What do you see? The trees still look like winter. Most of them have no leaves on their branches yet. But some of the bushes are in bloom, and colorful flowers have popped up here and there. Nature has awakened, but the beauty of nature is not complete yet. There will still be some rainy days ahead, but slowly the temperature will be going up from here.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that the Resurrection of Jesus was in a Garden, nor that it was in the early Spring. His Resurrection sets in a new season to the history of the world as well. A new reality is setting in. The world is not completely restored to its original beauty yet, but for all those who believe, a new season has begun!
Through the Resurrection of Jesus, there is new life a new hope. A new season has begun, and there is nothing that can stop it!
The Jewish Passover fell in this week of Unleavened Bread. In this tradition, on the day after the first Sabbath following Passover – are you following me? – that’s the Sunday, the Jews would bring the firstfruits of their harvest to the Temple as a sacrifice, thanking God for the harvest that had already come in, and trusting Him to continue to supply.
Why does this matter? The Sunday of the Resurrection, was the day of the firstfruits. While Mary and the disciples were standing at that empty grave, the Jewish people brought their firstfruits to the Temple.
Jesus fulfils that ancient Jewish tradition – as all of the Jewish festivals and everything in this week of unleavened bread finds its fulfilment in Jesus.
This is why Paul says this:
1 Corinthians 15:20 (ESV)
Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Paul goes on to explain what this means.
1 Corinthians 15:21-23
For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Jesus is the firstfruit of the resurrection in a very literal sense. He is the first man to be raised from the dead.
Now, you may think back of Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead, but that was more like a healing on steroids. After all, Lazarus died again – like every one of us will die at some point. But Jesus never died again. He is still alive today.
He was the first to be raised to a resurrection body, one that we will receive at this ‘resurrection of the dead’ Paul speaks of, which will happen when Christ comes again.
Secondly, Jesus is the firstfruits in a more spiritual sense.
His resurrection sets off a new phase in history.
As N.T. Wright says: "The Resurrection of Jesus is the starting point and the means by which the Creator is redeeming His creation and restores it to its original purpose."
Through the Resurrection of Jesus, we receive a new life, a new hope and a new spirit. We are a new creation. We have experienced the power of that resurrection, changing us from the inside out.
And by that same power, God is redeeming and restoring our world, and He is using you and me to do it!