It’s springtime, and gardeners are in full swing planting and tending to their already growing produce. Hopefully, I'll get my own potted vegetable garden going soon, like I have been promising myself I would do for the past three years! Gardening takes time, effort, commitment, and wisdom to make plants grow successfully, and this requires faithfulness. Will I follow through and harvest some vegetables this season? Time will tell.
We can actually learn a lot about the Bible by looking at God’s first garden: the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis. It can seem like the Old Testament and New Testament are quite different from each other, but they are actually intricately connected in God’s unfolding story, and this story takes a pivotal turn in Eden.
In Romans 5, the Apostle Paul compares the first Adam with the second Adam. In the Old Testament, God placed the first Adam and his wife Eve in the Garden of Eden after giving them dominion over all created things in the world (Gen. 1:28; 2:15). Yet, the first gardener, Adam, did not obey God’s commands.
Adam was supposed to tend God’s garden and earn life for himself, Eve, and his posterity. Instead of casting Satan out of the garden, Adam listened to the serpent and obeyed him, rather than God, by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam’s rebellion brought guilt, a corrupt nature, death, sin, misery, and enmity with God upon all humanity. The Lord drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and banished them from the tree of life (Gen. 2:15–3:24).
Jesus was a gardener like Adam, except Jesus succeeded where Adam failed. In the New Testament, God sent his Son into the world to care for it in every way that Adam was supposed to do. Instead of bowing down to Satan, Jesus rebuked the devil in the wilderness, obeyed the law perfectly, and sacrificed himself for the sins of his people.
In his article, “Jesus, the True and Greater Gardener,” Nick Batzig points to the one bookend of Jesus’ prayer in a garden (Gethsemane) before his arrest, and the other bookend of his resurrection from a tomb in yet another garden. Batzig goes on to quote Isaac Ambrose in Looking Unto Jesus:
In the first garden, the first Adam was overthrown by Satan, and in this garden the second Adam overcame, and Satan himself was by him overcome; in the first garden sin was contracted; and we were indebted by our sins to God, and in this garden sin was paid for by that great and precious price of the blood of God.
The Apostle John reinforces this connection in his gospel by including how Mary Magdalene assumed Jesus was the gardener when he spoke to her near the empty tomb (John 20:15).
When we start with the purpose God had for Adam and Eve, the entire Bible makes a lot more sense. In Jesus, the Father finally had the obedient Son who kept his will perfectly. Jesus submitted perfectly to the Father in all things, bringing justification, new life, freedom from sin’s bondage, and reconciliation with God for all who trust in him (Rom. 6:14; Eph. 2:8–9). With this frame of reference, we can better understand the Old Testament requirements of holiness and animal sacrifices, and why only the God-man, Jesus, could make right what Adam made wrong.
Jesus loved the world so much that he gave his own life to save it. Because Jesus took perfect care of everything God entrusted to him, you can have confidence that Jesus will always care for your soul when you trust in him alone for your salvation.