Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Gardens and Crosses

"Now in the place where Jesus was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid."

Jesus was crucified on a skull shaped hill just outside of Jerusalem. This bone-covered, hill, known in different languages as Calvary or Golgotha, was a place of cruel executions. a place of ugliness, loneliness, cruelty, torture, excruciating pain and death.

Very near that hill was a garden. What an interesting contrast! The hill speaks of suffering and death. The garden speaks of quiet peacefulness, life and beauty.

Joseph, of the village of Arimathea, was a wealthy man and a member of the ruling Jewish Sanhedrin. He was a secret follower of Christ. He owned the garden and had dug a tomb in the rock and had prepared a sepulchre for his own death someday.

Nicodemus was the Pharisee of John 3 who came to Jesus one night two or three years earlier earnestly seeking to know Christ. Evidently he received Christ as his Messiah and became a secret follower for several years.

Both of these men came together to take down the dead body of Jesus and bury it in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb. Nicodemus brought 100 pounds of spices for the burial. Centuries before as slaves in Egypt, the Israelites had learned the art of embalming.

The account of Jesus' burial is found in the four Gospels: Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56 and John 19:39-42. From these four Gospels we have this story.
A synthesized account of Jesus' burial

As the evening of the Passover Sabbath was drawing near; Joseph of Arimathea, a good man and a wealth man, a Counsellor and a member of the Sanhedrin who had followed Jesus secretly for some time; boldly and courageously approached Pilate for permission to take Jesus' body down from the cross and bury it.

Pilate, after confirming with the Roman centurion that Jesus was indeed dead, gave permission to Joseph.

Nicodemus, the Pharisee who had come to Jesus one night several years earlier to discuss spiritual matters, now joined Joseph in helping him with the burial by bringing one hundred pounds of embalming spices. Together they took the body to Joseph's tomb and wrapped the corpse with the embalming spices in yards of linen and laid it in the sepulchre.

Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, also joined Joseph and Nicodemus in the tomb and observed how the body of Jesus was laid out in the tomb. Then they all exited and rolled a great stone against the mouth of the tomb and left the garden.

The strange contrast
Would you consider with me the strange contrast of a garden and an execution site being so close together? Calvary speaks of the dark, discouraging, sad, heart-breaking moments of our life. The Garden speaks of peace and quiet fellowship with God. Note both experiences often come close together. The garden was near the cross. Dear reader, the next time you are called upon to bear a cross of suffering and heart-break and disappointment for Jesus' sake, remember; there is a garden of fellowship with Christ near by.

The fellowship that Adam and Eve in their unfallen state enjoyed with Jesus each day in the Garden of Eden, was lost when they sinned against God. They lost the fellowship and died spiritually and years later died physically. The result is that the entire human race has followed them in sin and death and loss of fellowship with God. Your fellowship with God can be restored through faith in Christ who died to pay the penalty for our sins.
In that Garden of Fellowship you will find the following blessings.

The blessing of life
There is only one kind of life and that is God's eternal life. It begins the moment you put your trust in Christ as Saviour and continues on throughout eternity. There is no other life; only existence. This life comes through Jesus alone. John 14:6 It is an abundant life; more than you could ever dream or ask for. John 10:10 You find this life by identifying yourself with Christ who suffered and died and rose again for your sins. Matthew 10:39

The blessing of intimacy with God
In Isaiah 45:3 the prophet Isaiah speaks of the spiritual treasures that are found only in the dark and distressing times of life. Philippians 3:10 and I Peter 1:3-8 speak of the intimacy with Christ and the spiritual power we experience as we enter the fellowship of His sufferings.

The blessing of beautification
In the garden of fellowship with Christ, He is glorified in us. John 17:5-10 The more time we spend with Him in His Word, the more we become like Him. II Corinthians 3:18 Psalms 149:4-5 Psalms 90:14-17

The blessing of peace
If we are living in fellowship with Christ, when times of fear and suffering come our way, we can have His perfect peace as we keep our mind focused on Christ. Isaiah 26:3 Through His indwelling Holy Spirit, He gives us His peace. John 14:27 16:33

The blessing of joy
In the midst of sorrow and loss, He fills our heart with His joy. John 15:11 I John 4:1

The blessing of growth
Some of the greatest spiritual growth and sanctification, (the process of becoming like Jesus) comes in the midst of suffering. I Peter 5:10 We are crowded closer to Christ. The spiritual growth that takes place may be imperceptible to us, but others can see it and are blessed by the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives.

Finally, the blessing of suffering often opens new doors of service for Christ.
As in a garden, new and fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers are constantly being produced; so in the garden of fellowship with Christ, He often closes one door and opens another new and fresh opportunity for service. But don't chide and fret and moan for new opportunities to come your way. Learn to bloom and produce fruit in the place where He planted you. When you have finished your work there, He will move you on to new opportunities, if you have been faithful

Next time you pass through a time of testing and sorrow, remember there is a garden close by, a garden where you can enjoy sweet intimacy and fellowship with Christ.

June 6, 2006 - Posted by | Encouragment

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