John 19:41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. 42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
The Easter program Friday night depicted the love of God. On one side we had the manger. In the center were curtains that were raised to reveal Jesus on the cross. He hung there and cried “it is finished” and died. On the other side was the tomb and a stone curtain covered it. When the angel came and pulled them back the grave clothes were there but the tomb was empty. Beside the tomb was a garden.
John tells us something the others didn’t. Near Calvary was a graveyard. Joseph of Arimathea had purchased an area there. I have pictures of the face of Calvary from when I visited there. It’s called Golgotha, the place of the skull. The photos bear that out. God preserved it as a testimony. There is a pathway that leads to trees and green grass. One side of the hill is menacing; that’s the face of our sins. It’s gussied up by the world but the real face of sin is worse than the skull. It’s hell, a lake of fire, and outer darkness. On the other side of the hill called Calvary is a beautiful garden. It was beautiful. There were several tombs; they are different there than what we have. Some were just openings; others were more modern. Joseph’s tomb had never been used. That’s odd for a sepulchre. God took care of that place. We looked in and it was still empty. The trench used to roll the stone was there but no stone. Others had stones.
In John 18 we read of the suffering of Christ in another garden. Chapter 19 shows his death and then his burial in another garden. Gethsemane was on the east side of the city. Calvary was on the north. They were close together but connected in a tremendous way. Jesus often took the disciples to Gethsemane to pray. In the evening it was a beautiful garden. In the day it was a functional olive garden. Olive trees are gnarled and can be scary looking. Jesus went in and fell on his knees. He wrestled with the mission knowing it was less than a day that he would suffer like no one else ever had. He was to become sin for us and he knew it. The devil did his best to get Jesus to give up. At his lowest point Jesus asked if there was another way but ended it saying “nevertheless, not my will but thine.” Was Jesus second guessing his mission? No. He knew what suffering was coming. He knew through his innocence he would taste suffering, sin, and death for us. He didn’t sin for us yet he took upon himself our sin. He knew danger waited him in Jerusalem. So many hated him. He had done nothing to make them hate him. He only told them the truth. If the Lord squeezes your heart, thank him. There is little conviction today. Jesus is still hated. The sin of unbelief and rejection of Jesus will send people to hell. The truth may hurt but it sets us free.
Jesus prayed so hard his sweat became blood. The trail all the way to Calvary was covered in blood. We’ll not get to heaven in our sin. We must go through Jesus to get to the Father. Jesus went all the way so that we’d have a Savior. When he left Gethsemane it was settled. He was going all the way. He was focused on you and me.
When he died there was another garden, this one a cemetery. Calvary was a place of execution. The wages of sin is death and the whole world was guilty. Jesus walked up Calvary’s hill so we wouldn’t have to. The tomb had never been used and was only used for a few days. The Savior is not there. No body. No Jesus. When the women got there the stone was rolled away; it was empty. What a garden this is.
In order to connect the two gardens a pathway was made. Before Jesus could go from Gethsemane to the second garden the pathway took him to the cross. It was a bloody path. You think you’re suffering? You think you’re hated? Poor old pitiful me. If only…. No! No! No! Life is the way it is: short and full of trouble. You’re not having it harder than everyone else. For sure not harder than Jesus. What’s wrong? Are you lost? If you’ve been saved remember what the Bible said. God will never forsake you. Jesus bore trials, endured the beating and crown of thorns. He was forsaken. Everyone yelled “crucify him.” The devil is on us all. He doesn’t want us to look up. Jesus carried the cross. Drops of blood went all the way from garden to garden. When Jesus came forth he was not suffering. He had the victory. Why? He walked the path and made it through. We now have to walk a path, the one to the cross. That’s where we go to be saved.
The cross? Guess what. It’s empty. Gethsemane is empty. The tomb is empty. Look in. If you want to get to heaven from here in the dungeon of this life and your sin you must call on the name of the one who died for your sin on Calvary. If you believe on him you will be saved.
Are you ready to go to the garden? Come go with us and then walk with the Lord. Just like that old song we can go there and he will walk and talk with us.