Jesus as Just a Gardener

    Last night’s rain glistens most in the morning’s sun. This Easter morn puddles reflect greening trees, blossoming trumpet lilies, and confetti from cascarones left from yesterday’s children’s celebrations. This Semana Santa in Brownsville is poignant in its quietude.

    So it must have been that morning of the third day, when Mary Magdalene was maudlinly pacing the grounds around the empty tomb. She was searching for a clue to where Jesus had disappeared. In John 20, Mary comes across but a single person in her worried walk. “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” (John 20:15). Supposing him to be a gardener, she at first missed recognizing the very Jesus she sought.

    While Mary at first mistook Jesus for a gardener, we too often fail to see Jesus in the gardeners of this world. Jesus charged us all saying, “…to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40). How often I fail to recognize the face of Jesus in everyone I meet! I marvel that it is much easier for me to see the hand of God in the blooming tulips and daffodils of a garden than the face of Jesus in the eyes of the poor and the mouth of the voiceless.

    Supposing families of immigrants to be “illegal” and thus beyond our call of care, how many of us fail to minister to them as if they were the Holy Family sojourning in Egypt? Supposing gardeners to be merely undocumented workers, how vocally do we advocate for legislation which will allow them full rights and responsibilities of citizenship? Supposing refugees and immigrants to be outsiders, how loathe we are to welcome them into our country which needs them? Supposing immigrants to be only people, how often do we miss out on an opportunity to minister to a risen Jesus? Supposing all border-crossers to be terrorists, how acquiescent we are to accept a border wall which disrespects humanity?

    The most amazing thing about the Easter story is that Jesus is not confined to the constraints of a tomb or to the limitations of His earthly body either. No, as Jesus pointed out when He told Mary, “Stop clinging to me…,” He can now be seen and ministered to in the needy, the poor, the voiceless, the stranger among us. The kingdom of God He preached about and embodied in His life will be brought about when everyone on earth recognizes the spark of the divine, the image of God, the very face of Jesus in each and every brother and sister the world over. Mother Theresa said and lived the idea that, “Every person is Christ for me and since there is only one Jesus, the person I am meeting is the one person in the world at that moment” (Spink, Kathryn Mother Theresa). Supposing Jesus to be only a gardener, or an extralegal resident, or a refugee, or a manual laborer, or an uninsured child, or a working single-mother, may we treat each person as if they are Jesus Christ who lives today.

Gardener at Chico

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2 Responses to “Jesus as Just a Gardener”

  1. Darlene Pace Says:

    Pastor Laura will appreciate this. Do I have your permission to forward it to her?

  2. Matthew Webster Says:

    Absolutely Darlene. This blog post was absolutely inspired by Laura’s message this morning at First United Methodist Church in Brownsville. I have read this specific verse some 50 times, but this was the first time I realized how important it is that we, as people of faith, treat every single person we meet as if they are Jesus. And perhaps they are…

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