Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In The Garden
Watch the Video

In The Garden

Intro.: I thought about beginning with a journey to outer space.

  1. But tossed that out fairly quickly.

  2. I then thought about beginning with a visit to the zoo.

  3. But that was not quite right -

  4. You see, today, we will take a walk In The Garden.

  5. To this point, it is the song that has been asked for the most. There is one other song that has so far been asked for multiple times. But In The Garden is where we will start.


Trans: In 1912, C. Austin Miles was a pharmacist by trade. His personal hobby was as a photographer. But as a believer, his passion was music.

  1. In church he was the song leader and, as such, he occasionally wrote a song. Two of his songs have come to the 21st century church – we have already sung one, A New Name In Glory. The other is one of our beloved songs, In The Garden.

  2. His publisher and friend, Adam Geibel, asked him to write a song for a new hymnal that he was planning to publish. The assigned song, according to Miles, had to be “sympathetic in tone, breathing tenderness in every line; one that would bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary, and downy pillows in dying beds.”

  3. Austin knew it was going to be tough. But on that fateful day in 1912 as he sat in a semi-darkened room, he opened his Bible to his favorite chapter – John 20. For him, it was a powerful meeting between Mary Magdalene and her first encounter with the risen Christ

  4. He found himself standing there with Mary – at the Garden of Gethsemane looking into the empty tomb – she saw two angels dressed in white. But then she hears a voice, “Mary”. It was not the voice she expected to hear, but she knew that voice. It was the Teacher, “Rabboni” she cried. She had come face to face to face with the risen Christ.1

  5. The words of today's hymn refer not some random encounter with the Lord in a Garden, but they remind us of the miraculous meeting between Mary and her Lord on that first Easter Sunday so long ago:

I come to the garden alone

While the dew is still on the roses

And the voice I hear falling on my ear

The Son of God discloses.2

  1. What an appropriate hymn to begin our Lenten series.

Read: John 20:1-18

T.S. There are four key points in John 20:1-18.

  1. Mary finds the empty tomb.

    1. Can you imagine the confusion that Mary must have felt that morning? She had gone to the garden tomb to worship her Lord alone. But what she was not prepared for what she found.

    2. The stone was gone – she couldn't look inside, she knew what she would find – an empty tomb.

(Ill.) Charles Spurgeon reminds us that there are three key points in Christ's life on which our faith rests. The first is the incarnation – the birth of Jesus. Though His birth does not save us, without the incarnation there could be no sacrifice. Christ's death on that dark Friday is the sacrifice that saves us. But it is only with the resurrection the next Sunday that allows to proclaim that we serve a living God that not only died for our sins, but also gives eternal life to all who believe. To quote Spurgeon, “Bethlehem, Calvary, and the empty tomb, all alike should stir our souls and draw our hearts out to God in wonder, love, and praise.”3

    1. But we know that from hind sight – Mary found an empty tomb and did not know what to think.

  1. Mary finds the disciples.

    1. Mary does the sensible thing – she goes to Jesus' closest friends – Peter and John

    2. They hear her tell of the empty tomb and take off running for the tomb. John gets there first – but all he finds is the cloth that was used to wrap the body of Jesus. Scripture says that they believed – though they still did not understand that Jesus had to rise from the dead.

    3. There was nothing they could do, something amazing had happened, but all they could do was wait and see.

    4. I find it amazing that the disciples who were closest to Jesus ran from the tomb. They could not handle it. They were willing to look – in fact they went into the tomb when Mary did not. But when they saw that Jesus was really gone, their faith was shaken. Scripture does say, “they believed”, but they did not understand.

(Appl.) God does not always expect us to understand. He does expect us to place our faith in what we know – even if we do not understand. This is where the disciples find themselves that first Easter morning, believing not understanding.

    1. The disciples run, but Mary Magdalene stays behind.

  1. Mary finds the Angels.

    1. Mary was emotional. When the disciples left, she sat down and cried.

(Ill.) My dentist is lucky. Not because of the money he makes off of me, but because he is one of the few people who gets to hear me sing. You see, when I get that shot of Novocaine I could scream, or cry, but I choose to sing. No fancy song, but just a simple melody – but Mary is in no mood to sing. These are real tears.

    1. And while crying, she has two conversations.

    2. The first was with two angels she saw sitting in the tomb. They respond much like you or I might, “Why are you crying?”

    3. Jesus had predicted that His followers would weep. In John 16:20 we are told that Jesus had told His disciples, “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.

    4. But those tears would be short lived. Jesus concludes the verse by saying, “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy ... Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

    5. You know, God has given two angels to Mary, but it does not seem to be enough.

    6. There are times when life seems so tough, that it takes more than the angels to get us through.

  1. Mary finds Jesus.

    1. And she hears another voice. “Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” At first she thinks it the gardener. The person who is responsible for maintaining the garden and the cemetery.

    2. Where have you laid Him?”

    3. But she recognized the voice – it was the voice of the teacher.

    4. Mary is startled – and she yells out “Rabboni” - “Teacher”

(Ill.) Have you ever met somebody you never expected to see in a place you never expected to see them. It really feels weird. For example, Sandra and I will have breakfast over at our local family restaurant. And when we do, we will find someone there that we don't expect to find – it might be a friend from our old church, or someone we know from some other context. Last week it was one of the clerks from our favorite pizza spot. It feels good to make contact with someone and to be recognized. But it also seems weird. I wonder if that is some of what Mary felt when she recognized Jesus for the first time?

    1. Rabboni”, Teacher. How? Why? I saw you die on the cross last Friday?

    2. And then joy feels me as I realize that He is alive.


I came to the garden alone While the dew is still on the roses And the voice I heard falling on my ear The Son of God discloses.




3AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

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