“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…And the LORD God planted a garden…to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food…and a river went out of Eden to water the garden” (Gen. 1:1; 2:8-10). God planned and planted the first garden for beauty and sustenance. God created beauty. He values aesthetics, and He refers to the garden of Eden with all its wondrous beauty as “the garden of God” (Ezek. 31:9).
In the biblical account of the kings we are introduced to “the king’s garden,” and from passages focusing on the great kings of the east, we learn of “the palace garden.” Made in the image of God, man also values gardens. I love visiting the gorgeous gardens of Ireland and England. Their beauty is refreshing to the soul. No earthly paintbrush can replicate the work of God’s paintbrush in creating velvet flower petals and a variety of trees offering us grand beauty and also welcomed shade.
Jesus often resorted to places where He was surrounded by botanical wonder. After the heartfelt Paschal Discourse (John 14-16) and high priestly prayer (John 17), we read: “When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples…for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples” (John 18:1-2). Jesus, the Creator, the designer of the first garden, regularly sought the comfort afforded by the Garden of Gethsemane. It should come as no surprise then that Jesus would be buried in a new tomb in “a garden” (John 19:41-42). The great finishing work of our Savior, Jesus conquering death and rising again, was accomplished in a garden.
If Jesus valued a garden as a place of refreshment and prayer, perhaps we too can seek out some spot of God’s created beauty to meet with the maker of that beauty. A simple walk down a neighborhood street gets you outdoors and under God’s sky. Even a few moments spent outside in winter’s cold with the snow-covered evergreens can invigorate. God is practical. Enjoy His created beauty and let the refreshment of your soul lead you to enjoy God Himself. Then both soul and spirit will be refreshed.
John Van Gelderen