Peace – Prayer – Joy – Love

Resurrection: Gardener, Creator and Savior

  1. Congratulations, Lenten Fasts Are Over
    1. Did you give up something for Lent? Are you glad it’s over?
    2. What I gave up for Lent. What I learned this year.
      1. The Spirit still empowers us! Has been needed in my household.
      2. Sacrifice can lead to spiritual growth; like a gardener pruning.
    3. Pruning prepares us for growth; Jesus as the gardener. Jesus said, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
  2. The Unexpected Messiah Continue to be Unexpected
    1. From kingly procession to gardener’s entry; Jesus just won’t cooperate
    2. Last week they expected a conqueror. Today Mary expects a corpse.
    3. In both cases, Jesus just doesn’t conform to broken expectations.
  3. Creation, Corruption, & Re-Creation: All Things New
    1. Irony of the gardener; John’s Gospel begins with Genesis inspiration. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,                  and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.
    2. Dissonance of a world out of sync & longing to be made new.
    3. We see it in the “What If” cards that we submitted 2 weeks ago.
  4. That Gardener Isn’t Just Any Gardener!
    1. The one Mary mistakes for just a gardener in her urgent investigation to find her beloved Messiah’s corpse is none other than the divine creator who comes to recreate with the power to make all things new!
    2. G. K. Chesterton describes what happened that morning in this way: “On the third day the friends of Christ coming at day-break to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of a gardener God walked again in the garden, not in the cool of the evening, but in the dawn.”
    3. Craig Keen describes what happened that morning in this way: “What comes out of the tomb on Easter Sunday morning is not Jesus revived, but a new creation, out of nothing. He is Jesus, certainly, the son of Mary, the Nazarene peasant, the itinerant Jewish wonderworker and prophet. And yet he has come to be this by an act that irrupts into what could have never have yielded it. Resurrection is God’s creative deed. In it the apocalyptic sovereignty of God transgresses every cosmological, ontological and theological limit.    The world is made anew when Jesus walks out of the tomb.”
  5. The Gardener Who Is Resurrected In A Body Here
    1. Jesus is not resurrected into some other-worldly spiritual existence.
      1. Luke testifies in our reading from Acts that Jesus eats & drinks.
      2. A core Christian belief is in a real bodily resurrection (for us all).
    2. Resurrection declares to us; God hasn’t given up on the world! This world of blood & sweat & tears that we call home still matters. God is in the process of redeeming & restoring & renewing this world.
    3. The Good News is that this unexpected Messiah has both
      1. The power to claim ultimate victory over even death itself, and
      2. The love to redeem our world in desperate need of hope & healing
  6. Privileged Participants In Resurrected Redemption
    1. Those “What If” cards of ours don’t just identify the discrepancy and dissonance between what is and what should be. They are our hearts crying out in a call to action to participate in the Kingdom New Order. They are the Spirit promising the power of resurrection hope ahead.
    2. Brian Zand describes our hope in this divine gardener Messiah so well: “Jesus is the gardener who turns blighted wastelands into verdant gardens. Jesus is NOT a conductorpunching tickets for a train ride to heaven. Christian hope is not so much about getting from earth to heaven,
      as it is about getting heaven to earth.
      Jesus is NOT a lawyer to get us out of a legal jam with his angry dad.
      God is not mad at sinners. …
      Jesus is NOT a banker making loans of his surplus righteousness.
      Modern people love economic metaphors…but they are terrible!
      Economic metaphors invariably produce bad theology.
      Jesus IS a gardener! A gardener cultivating resurrection life in all who will come to him. The conductor, lawyer, banker metaphors are mostly false, giving a distorted view of salvation. The gardener (and physician) metaphor is beautiful and faithfully depicts the process of salvation in our lives. …     Jesus is a gardener with a good heart and a green thumb …    I promise you that your life is not so messed up that Jesus can’t nurture you into a flourishing state. This is the good news! Take a leap of faith and believe it!”
    3. The Risen Lord extends a nail-pierced hand of invitation for us to participate in the Kingdom whenever we gather in worship. Christ’s body & blood offered at this table are the grace of New Creation here among us. Inviting us to come, taste & see that the Lord is indeed good.


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