Jesus said to her, Woman, why weep you? whom seek you? She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him…
1. It is not an unnatural supposition; Mary was mistaken here; but if we are under His Spirit's teaching we shall not make a mistake, for if we may truly sing, "We are a garden walled around," &c., that enclosure needs a gardener.
2. Neither is the figure unscriptural; for in one of His own parables our Lord makes Himself to be the Dresser of the vineyard.
3. If we would be supported by a type, our Lord takes the name of "the Second Adam," and the first Adam was a gardener. Thus also Solomon thought of Him when He described Him as going out with His beloved for the preservation of the garden, saying, "Take us the foxes," &c. "Supposing Him to be the gardener," we have here —
I. THE KEY TO MANY WONDERS in the garden of His Church.
1. That there should be a Church at all in the world; a garden blooming in the midst of this sterile waste. "Ye are of God, little children, and the whole world lieth in the wicked one." We understand its existence, "supposing Him to be the gardener," but nothing else can account for it. He can cause the fir tree to flourish instead of the thorn, and the myrtle instead of the briar.
2. That the Church should flourish in such a clime. This present evil world is very uncongenial to the growth of grace, and within are elements which tend to its own disorder and destruction if left alone; even as the garden has in its soil all the germs of a thicket of weeds. The continuance and prosperity of the Church can only be accounted for by "supposing Him to be the gardener" Almighty strength and wisdom are put to the otherwise impossible work of sustaining a holy people among men. "I will water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day."
3. That ever we should have been placed among the plants of the Lord. How is it that we have been kept there, and borne with in our barrenness, when He might long ago have said, "Cut it down: why cumbereth it the ground?" Who could have manifested such infinite patience? I know not, except upon this ground, "supposing Him to be the gardener."
II. A SPUR TO MANY DUTIES.
1. Joy. Surely it must help every little plant to drink in the sunlight when it is whispered among the flowers that Jesus is the gardener. "Supposing Him to be the gardener," He will make the best of you. You cannot be in better hands.
2. Valuing the Lord's presence, and praying for it. We ought whenever the Sabbath morning dawns to pray our Well-beloved to come into His garden and eat His pleasant fruits. It is our necessity that we have Christ with us, "supposing Him to be the gardener"; and it is our bliss that we have Christ walking between our beds and borders, watching every plant, training, maturing all.
3. Yield ourselves up entirely to Him. A plant does not know how it ought to be treated. Happiness lives next door to the spirit of complete acquiescence in the will of God, and it will be easy to exercise that when we suppose the Lord Jesus to be the gardener.
4. Bring forth fruit to Him. If Jesus is to bear the blame or the honour of what we produce, then let us use up every drop of sap and strain every fibre, that we may produce a fair reward for our Lord's travail.
III. A RELIEF FROM CRUSHING RESPONSIBILITY. "Supposing Him to be the gardener," the Church enjoys a better oversight than mine; all must go well in the long run. He that keepeth Israel doth neither slumber nor sleep. A certain man of God in troublous times became quite unable to do his duty because he laid to heart so much the ills of the age. Then one said to him, "Mr. Whitelock, are you the manager of the world?" No, he was not quite that. "Did not God get on pretty well with it before you were born, and don't you think He will do very well with it when you are dead?" That reflection helped to relieve the good man's mind, and he went back to do his duty. While this relieves us of anxiety it makes labour for Christ very sweet. "Supposing Him to be the gardener," I am quite willing to work on a barren rock, or tie up an old withered bough, or dig a worthless sod; for, if it only pleases Jesus, the work is profitable to the last degree.
1. In dealing with the souls of men, we meet with cases which are extremely difficult. Some persons are so fearful that you do not know how to comfort them; others are so presumptuous that you hardly know how to help them; others so fickle that you cannot hold them. Some flowers puzzle the ordinary gardener: we meet with plants which are covered with prickles, and wound the hand that would help them. These strange growths would make a great muddle for you if you were the gardener; but "supposing Him to be the gardener," you can go to Him and say, "Lord, I do not understand this singular creature. Oh, that Thou wouldest manage it, or tell me how."
2. And then, again, plants will die down, and others must be put into their places, or the garden will grow bare; but we know not where to find them. We say, "When yonder good man dies, who will succeed him?" Let us wait till he is gone and needs following. "Supposing Him to be the gardener," the Lord has other plants in reserve which you have not yet seen: the Lord will keep up the true apostolical succession till the day of His second advent.
IV. A DELIVERANCE FROM MANY GLOOMY FEARS. I walked down a garden where all the path was strewn with leaves and broken branches and stones, and I saw the earth upon the flower-beds tossed about: all was in disorder. Had a dog been amusing himself? or had a mischievous child been at work? No; the gardener had been doing it for the good of the garden. It may be it has happened to some of you that you have been a good deal clipped lately. Well, if the Lord has done it our gloomy fears are idle. Supposing Him to be the gardener, then —
1. The serpent will have a bad time of it. Supposing Adam to be the gardener, then the serpent gets in and mischief comes of it. So, if we are afraid that the devil should get in among us, let us be always in prayer, because Jesus can keep out the adversary. Other creatures intrude; caterpillars and all sorts of destroying creatures, How can we keep them out? There is no protection except one, "supposing Him to be the gardener."
2. What if roots of bitterness should spring up among us to trouble us? Who is to prevent this? Only the Lord Jesus by His Spirit.
3. Suppose the living waters of God's Spirit should not come to water the garden, what then? We cannot make them flow. All, but the Spirit of God will be in our garden, "supposing our Lord to be the gardener." The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hands.
V. A WARNING FOR THE CARELESS.
1. There are many to the Church what weeds are to a garden. Take heed; for one of these days, "supposing Him to be the gardener," "every plant which My heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up."
2. Others are like the branches of the vine which bear no fruit. "Supposing Him to be the gardener," He will fulfil that sentence: "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away."
VI. A QUIETUS TO THOSE WHO COMPLAIN
1. Certain of us have been made to suffer much physical pain; others have suffered heavy losses. Take the supposition of the text. The Lord has been pruning you sharply. Be quiet until you are able to say, "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away," &c.
2. Especially I speak to those who have suffered bereavement. The best rose in the garden is gone. The gardener came this way and gathered it. Dry your grief by "supposing Him to be the gardener."
VII. AN OUTLOOK FOR THE HOPEFUL. "Supposing Him to be the gardener," then —
1. Expect where He works the best possible prosperity. It is our unbelief that straitens God.
2. Expect Divine intercourse of unspeakable preciousness. When Adam was the gardener the Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day; and "supposing Him to be the gardener," then we shall have the Lord God dwelling among us.
3. Expect He will remove the whole of the garden upward with Himself to fairer skies; for He rose, and His people must rise with Him.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
WEB: Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?" She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."