“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him…”
John 20:15

This really struck me this Easter. According to the account of John, when Mary Magdalene turned away from the angels in the tomb, she saw a man whom she did not recognize.

Immediately she judged that he was a gardener.

Was it how he was dressed? Or was it something in his look, his demeanor? Of course, the tomb was in a garden–a noteworthy fact in itself. But is any man in a garden immediately supposed to be a gardener?

It is interesting that John chose to record this detail. It is perhaps a way of emphasizing that at first she failed to recognize Jesus. But in the famous painting of this scene Beato Angelico portrays Jesus holding a hoe. This great artist prompts us to ponder anew: was there in reality a specific reason that Mary Magdalene ‘mistook’ Jesus for a gardener.

Perhaps I go too far, but I can’t help but think this was somehow a fitting mistake, if really a mistake at all. In writing on this event Gregory the Great actually takes this very approach: Mary was in a sense right. For the Risen Lord is a gardener: a spiritual gardener, planting seeds in Mary’s soul.

Surely there was a garden in the home at Nazareth. I wager that as a boy Jesus would take a break from carpentry to see how his gourds and melons were growing. What a very pleasing image; as is that of him with a hoe in his hand, even after rising from the dead.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:

Might vs. Valor

Phalinus, messenger from Persian King Artaxerxes, demands that the Persians (who had fought with Cyrus, now dead, against Artaxerxes) put down their arms. Xenophon responds: “Phalinus, at this moment, as you see for yourself, we have no other possessions save arms and...

read more

Bethany Weekends: Spring, Summer Schedule

Socrates insisted on the centrality of examining our lives. The purpose of such examination is clear: we will come closer to being the persons we can be if we accept the challenge of our human identity, of being rational. This is our privilege: to use our reason to...

read more

Of Dogs and Men

“But when he knew he heard Odysseus’s voice nearby, he did his best to wag his tail, nose down, with flattened ears, having no strength to move nearer his master. And the man looked away, wiping a salt tear from his cheek… If this old hound could show the form he had...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest