John 19 v38-41
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.
God planted a garden and waited. God created a new tomb and waited. God placed a cross and waited. In your darkest hour there is a garden with a new tomb waiting for new life.
If only those women at the foot of the cross had looked to the right or left. If only they had seen the garden with a new tomb. If only they had known that opportunity and provision lies in the middle of a crisis.
John brings onto the scene 2 men as the other gospel writers do. Both are secret disciples and one, Nicodemus, we have met before as he came to Jesus by night.
God always has someone/something in the wings ready at the right time to come onto centre stage of your life. Joseph had previously cut into the rock a new tomb (Matthew 27:60) which was in a garden at the place where Jesus would die.
What came first? The cross, the new tomb or the garden? It certainly wasn’t the cross. Within the experience of pain lies divine encounters that have been prepared beforehand for your future.
The people you meet today may be the provision you need for tomorrow. You moved into that neighbourhood a few years ago and you began living next door to that neighbour and you built a relationship and then covid-19 strikes and you are now praying for them in their darkest hour. God positions, places and plants for His provision.
The Bible is full of stories of plants, trees, vineyards, ﬁelds, sowing, harvesting and bearing fruit to reveal spiritual truths. The story begins in a garden in Eden but comes to a conclusion in a garden with a new tomb. The first garden sin appears and the last garden sin is defeated by the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
You may wake today to the image of a cross. You may be battling Covid-19, you may have suffered loss from the virus already. You may be grieving and bearing the weight of pain. I encourage you to lift your head. In due season winter will change. Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. Your cross is in a garden. Nature springs to life after death. Death, then resurrection. Death gives way to life.
A new song by Elevation has these lyrics
You turn mourning to dancing
You give beauty for ashes
You turn shame into glory
You’re the only one who can
You turn graves into gardens
You turn bones into armies
You turn seas into highways
You’re the only one who can
Beauty lies alongside the ugliest parts of life. Look up, you will see it eventually. Wait for God. He has got it all ready. He has prepared a table in the presence of our enemies and knowing this is how we fight our battles. When we know He surrounds us then we can carry the cross.
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6 v16-17)