Wednesday, March 5, 2008

God's Garden

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit.”
– Jesus in John 12:24

“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”
– John the Baptist in Matthew 3:8

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion - to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.”
– The Prophet Isaiah speaking of the Messiah to come in Isaiah 61:1-3

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide….”
-Jesus in John 15:16

“Christ values his saints above all others. All the world is nothing to him in comparison with his saints. They are his garden. The rest of the world is a dry desert.”
- Puritan John Owen in, Communion with God, p. 110

Today is a beautiful day in the Northwest and I’m glad for the not-so-subtle reminders of the coming of Spring. There are buds on the willow trees outside our window and the crocus’ have pushed their heads up through the ground. It won’t be long and Judy and mom will be making plans for planting a garden.

Monday morning I woke up thinking about the passage from John 12 where Jesus talks about a grain of wheat falling to the earth and dying and then bringing forth much fruit. That got me thinking about God’s garden. It’s no coincidence that gardens are a theme throughout Scripture. Creation begins with a garden (Genesis 2:8), when they sin Adam and Eve are exiled from a garden (Genesis 3:24), the crucifixion begins in a garden (Mark 14:32) and ends in a garden (John 19:41) and Christ’s redemptive work places His people forever in a garden (Revelation 2:7). Because of Jesus’ life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension the grain of wheat has fallen to the ground and died and its (His) purpose is to bear much fruit. God’s intention is that the seed that has died should not remain unfruitful or alone. Because of the efficacious work of Christ’s substitutionary death and His subsequent resurrection new life has come to the believer. A new seed is planted within the Christian. God’s garden is doing what gardens are intended to do – bear fruit.

A few weeks ago when we looked at the parable of the unfruitful fig tree (Luke 13) I was struck by the language Jesus used. Fig trees are to bear fruit and similarly Christians are to live fruitful lives. A Christian without fruit is like a garden that does not produce. It is a contradiction in terms. This is sobering and ought to move us to be thinking about what it truly means to be a Christian. Make no mistake, the death and resurrection of Christ is the fertile soil in which Christian fruit-bearing takes place. As sure as Christ has died and rose again God’s garden will produce the delicious fruit of regeneration and sanctification in His people. Dear friends, think about this, we are God’s garden.

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