“Therefore, if anybody is in Christ-a new creation! The old has passed away and the new has come.” – St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, 5:17
The Evangelists who wrote our Bibles record some incredible information about the death and resurrection of Christ, but some of it doesn’t seem to make much sense from the first read through. The Gospel writers share a message of a new Creation in the Risen Christ, if we have ears to hear it.
The point of the Bible is finding somebody to do the work that God had begun in Creation. God created Adam to cultivate the ground by watering the world with the four rivers that flowed from the top of the mountain on which Eden was located (Ezekiel 28). He was to cultivate grain from the ground and bake it into bread as an offering to bring to the Lord as a peace meal. He and God would have drank wine on the Sabbath after the world was brought to maturity as heaven is mature. He was supposed to guard the Bride until both were mature enough to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We know that he failed: the serpent deceived Eve and both ate the fruit and fell. The Bible then moves as people try and do the work of Adam to varying degrees of success. 1,000 years after David, who seemed like the best candidate, the world was still waiting for Adam to finish his work. So,God, not seeing anybody working on it, came as a man to finish the job himself.
In Matthew 26, we find Jesus and his disciples are praying in the Garden. He asks them to pray for him, but remarkably, they can’t stay awake long enough to pray for him. Three times Jesus comes back to find them sleeping. When we hear about a Garden, we should immediately start to think about Adam when he was in the Garden of Eden. This time we find Adam praying in the Garden, waiting for God to respond and help him. When Adam was in the Garden, he was told by God that eventually he was going to be able to eat out of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil*, he was just told to wait until he matured. Adam was supposed to guard his bride from the serpent’s temptation and fight him head on in holy war, maturing to the point where he would have taken the fruit and eaten it. Instead, the serpent tempted Eve to take the fruit early and share some with her husband, who did not defend her. Because he stood with her rather than defending her, he was forced to hide from God. What we see in the Garden of Gethsemane is a reversal of this: Jesus is tempted (Hebrews 4:15) to give up on his mission, possibly to take up Satan’s offer to rule the world differently (see the temptation narratives: Satan offered Jesus a kingdom without a cross). Rather, Jesus prays three times over the course of three hours; unlike Adam, Jesus waits and matures that he may follow the Lord’s will obediently. Jesus will guard his bride, Israel, by patiently waiting and putting his will under God’s that he may protect Israel from her enemy, death.
During a deep sleep, Yahweh removed a bone from Adam’s side to create the Woman. Parts of Adam’s body had to be separated that they could be rejoined later in marriage (Genesis 2:21-25). The disciples this time are under a deep sleep, and are separated from Jesus by the Roman centurions. Here Adam is separated from parts of his body, but they are not reunited as quickly. Adam waits for his bride a second time.
After Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were cursed. On that day, they were told that they would surely die. Eve was cursed with pain in childbirth, and a desire for a husband who would rule her correctly rather than her current, fallen husband. Adam was cursed with the inability to tend the ground without thorns and thistles would cultivate the land by the sweat of his brow, knowing eventually that he would return to the ground. Jesus, on the new tree, bore the curse of the law for us (Galatians 3:13-14). He bore the curse of the thorny ground when he wore a crown of thorns on his brow, redeeming the creation that Adam subjected to futility (Romans 8). Jesus, too, was subjected to return to the ground, an unused tomb in a garden. But there was hope in that: Jesus was coming out of the ground. Eve would only have to wait a bit longer for a husband to rule her correctly.
While he hung on the Cross, Christ’s side was pierced and water spilled out. Adam was supposed to follow the rivers that flowed from the top of the mountain in Eden to cultivate all of the world, using the water to undo the famine that stretched over the earth (Genesis 2:5). He didn’t, though, and the world remained uncultivated. When Christ was pierced, water spilled out of the side, bringing out water that would be the source of life in the Church, the new holy Jerusalem. This water was the same water promised to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4).
Now we get to resurrection Sunday. Adam is dead in the ground, Eve waits patiently for her new husband, death seems to have the final word. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb in the dark and turns, turns, turns. She just seems to be spinning – what is going on? She is the Bride searching for her husband in the dark (Song of Solomon 2:16-17; 6:1, 5 13). The bride in the Song smells incense rising from somewhere – she is smelling the pounds of spices that Jesus was buried with (John 19:38). The spices she smells are the spices associated with marriage (Psalm 45:1-3, 8). Mary is the Bride searching for her Husband, she is the new Eve searching for her unfallen husband promised (Genesis 3:16). Mary even mistook Jesus as a gardener (John 20:11-16). But why wouldn’t she? He was Adam, in a garden, bringing new creation out of the tomb. Both the angel and Jesus address Mary as woman, not as a sign of derision, but as a call back to Eve who was addressed as “the woman” in the garden. After three days in the ground, Adam awoke to find his Bride, the Church; after three days, Eve finally received her promised husband.
Then, after fulfilling his role as the true Adam, Jesus commissions the disciples. Like Yahweh breathing on the ground creating life, Jesus breathes on the disciples, imparting the Spirit on them (John 20:22) giving them new life. Adam then gives his disciples a part in his mission: water the world, grow the new believers to maturity by obeying my commandments, and conquer the world in the name of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).
In the Resurrection, Jesus brings a new creation: in this new creation, death is destroyed and shall never taint the lives of the saints again; the broken become whole; the last become first; women are the first preachers; everything sad is becoming untrue again in God’s new creation.