(April 02, 2023) Richard Winter reflects…

It’s often said that in the olden days things were different. Some will remember in those olden days that we had a garden at the back of our home… we grew most of our vegetables, some flowers and some fruit trees.

Everybody loves a garden. Whether you like to work in a garden, whether you plant it, or just like walking through one that somebody else has done all the work in, there is beauty in a garden.

The Holy Bible has a lot to say about either gardening or planting, or sowing and harvesting. Gardens feature in scripture from the beginning of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation. All of them are important to God’s plan… three on this earth, one not.

The three earthly ones were places of sadness, although the third became a place to rejoice over! And the fourth? Well let’s look at these four pivotal biblical places that have changed the way God’s people live… and can live.

The first garden was creation…

1. Garden of Eden
Genesis 1:31NLT tells that God was pleased with everything He had made in six days back in the beginning – ‘God looked over all He had made, and He saw that it was very good!’

The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden. Out of the ground He made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food (Genesis 2:8-9). And there He put the man whom He had formed, then Eve.

It would have been the most beautiful setting ever. Have you ever read that Adam had to pull the weeds from Eden – no, I haven’t either. Everything in that garden was provided by God.

Genesis 3 tells us God would come into the garden walking in the cool of the day to talk with Adam and Eve. They got to walk with God regularly there, a place of abundance, a place of joy, a place of fellowship, a place of intimacy with God… and there were no problems, no stress, no death.

But someone else came into the garden – a super being, a malevolent super being. It showed up as a serpent that can talk… and it had a conversation with Eve and then Adam.

And we know this super being was Satan, or the devil, or Lucifer. Ezekiel 28:13 mentions God saying to this enemy, ‘You were in Eden, the garden of God.’

At the suggestion of Satan, man began his journey of sin…  he usurped God’s will with his own will. And because of that Adam and Eve who had come into the garden were put out, never to return. In fact, security guards were placed outside of the garden to keep them from coming back in. That first garden was one of sadness!

There was a second garden, one of affliction…

2. Garden of Gethsemane
John 18:1-2 tells of Jesus going to the Garden of Gethsemane ‘…with His disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with His disciples.’ 

This is where Jesus begins to enter into the most sorrowful period of His life. This would be a battle ground for the souls of humankind. Satan was waiting to work through Judas Iscariot who became a stooge of Jewish leaders and the Roman army. Genesis 3:15  foretold of this battle, that Satan would seek to destroy the Saviour – but would fail!

The Chaldean word, Gethsemane, is interesting… it means olive press. Gethsemane was an olive farm, a garden where olives when grown were harvested, then crushed, oil coming out to be used to light lamps, cook food, anointing for personal hygiene purposes.

Here Jesus was pressed, crushed! For this is where our salvation all began. As the prophet Isaiah 53:5 said: ‘… He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.’

In Gethsemane Jesus said to His disciples, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death’ (Mark 14:34NLT). He knew what lay ahead, what was coming next. In fact, He prays to His Father, ‘… everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.’ Yet, Jesus qualified that prayer by saying, ‘Yet not what I will, but what you will’ (v36).

So, in this garden of affliction, Jesus began suffering for sin and death that started in the first garden, the one of creation. Here He is arrested in this second garden, and goes through six trials – three civil and three religious – before being sentenced to death on a Roman cross.

But, hallelujah, Jesus came not only into this second garden to undo what happened in the first, He came into a third garden – the one we celebrate, especially at Easter!

Indeed, Christians will always celebrate the resurrection of Jesus… and this third garden!

3. Garden of Burial and Resurrection
The third garden was different from the first two… owned by a wealthy Jew.

Jesus had died earlier than most victims did; and the Jewish leaders were anxious to get the bodies off the cross, and get them buried so they could go home and enjoy their Passover feast. But it was a secret disciple of Jesus who buried Him after He died on Calvary’s cross.

John 19:38-39 tells of what happened: ‘… 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.’ 

Now, Jesus did not walk into this third garden – He had spent six hours on a cross on a Friday afternoon, died there, and was now carried into this garden as a corpse.

  • The first garden was a garden of despair.
  • The second garden was a garden of betrayal leading to death.
  • This was a garden of hope, deliverance – from death and despair!

This garden was where death, the final foe of all humankind was conquered! When Jesus rose from the dead, death died itself died! Jesus killed death! Now every promise that Jesus ever made about eternal life suddenly made sense… such as when He said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die’ (John 11:25-26).

  • The first garden brought a death sentence.
  • The second garden has Jesus submitting Himself to the death sentence.
  • The third garden is where death was conquered when Jesus arose from the dead!

And that takes us to our fourth and final garden in this little tour… the garden of restoration.

4. Garden of Ascension – Paradise
And Jesus came into that fourth garden by an ascension – He ascended, the Bible says, into heaven (Acts 1:9).

He had said to His disciples a few days before to encourage them, ‘Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. I am going to prepare a place for you’ ).

For 2,000 years, He’s been preparing a place for us. Can you imagine what that place looks like? It can only be described as paradise!

So, what is the overall message of the Bible? It’s this – God had created a paradise garden in Eden… sadly sin destroyed the perfect relationship that Adam and Eve had with Him and no one could ever enter that earthly paradise. But the good news, the gospel, is that God through Jesus’ sacrificial death on Calvary has provided a way for entry into the heavenly paradise!

The word paradise can be better translated as a garden where everything for life is provided. In the closing chapters of the Bible, we have the final phase of heaven, known as the new heaven. And it is described as a restored garden – like a garden of Eden, complete with the tree of life. And Jesus says about that tree, ‘To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God’ (Revelation 2:7). Through all that Jesus has done for us who have accepted Him as Saviour, Christians are overcomers!

And there’s more! John writes in Revelation 22:1-3, ‘And he showed me a pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life. Which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations, and there will be no more curse. But the throne of God, and of the Lamb, shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.’

So in heaven, in this paradise, this garden of restoration, the curse that was placed on the first garden isn’t there. Christians can enter! If the first garden was Paradise Lost, this garden is Paradise Found!

To sum it all up, because of what Adam and Eve did in the first garden, the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion began in the second garden, and being buried in the third garden. And now the resurrected Jesus invites you… everyone who will accept Him as Saviour and genuinely repent of sins into the fourth garden, the final garden.

We are warmly welcomed to Paradise!
The God of heaven and Earth invites us into a personal relationship with Him, that will one day end in the garden of eternity. Revelation 22:17 welcomingly says, ‘The Spirit and the bride say, come. Let him who hears say, come. Let him who thirsts, come. Whoever desires, let him take of the water of life freely.’

Jesus welcomes us to this incredible garden! Remember what He said to one of the two criminals who were crucified with Him on Calvary? The one who seemed to turn his life over to Jesus at the last moment? Jesus turned to him and said, ‘Today, you will be with me in paradise’(Luke 24:23). Jesus was inviting him to that special place of honour, to be a companion with Him in the courts of heaven.

The Lord would want to say that to us ‘Will you be with me in paradise. I’m inviting you to that special place of honour.’ Dear reader, you may be asking how do I accept that invitation? You ask him to come into your life, you heart and save you. You ask him to change your life. And it all begins by genuinely repenting of your sins and accepting Jesus as your Saviour (John 3:16).

Father, we now pray – first of all a prayer of thanksgiving for the great work that you have accomplished. You invite us to have a deeper kind of life, a more satisfying kind of life, a fuller, richer kind of life that can only be called a living hope, that can only be called resurrection life!

Secondly, Lord, I pray you would breathe life, new life, into those reading this article today who still haven’t yet accepted Jesus, that you will do a work of bringing life, planting life into these lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dr Richard Winter pastors The Connection Church, Huntington Beach, California and will be sharing more about Mark’s gospel. Link:


  1. Lovely thoughts, Richard, for this Easter season. The songwriter, in a song usually titled In the Garden says, ‘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 and He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own and the joy we share, as we tarry there, none other has ever known’

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