Some Easter Thoughts

Here are some thoughts about God’s character that you might consider during the Easter season.

Did you ever notice the first thing God did after He created Adam? Well, He rested:

Gen 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

But if you look further down in the passage, you find this:

Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

After He made Adam, God planted a garden. God considered the effort of planting a garden not to be work, but part of his rest. I have known many people who didn’t think of gardening as work, but relaxation. As I have said elsewhere, my earliest memory is of a flower garden. God planted a garden and it was the perfect place for Adam and Eve to live, to grow, and to serve Him. So Adam became a gardener also, the first “job” in human history.

Gen 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

But when Adam and Eve sinned, God cast them out of the garden and death passed upon all men.

Gen 2:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Now, let’s look forward to the time of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is sharing His last Passover with His apostles (though they don’t know it), and Judas has left to betray Him. The meal is over and Jesus prays to His Father. These are the last words He spoke at the Last Supper:

John 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

They leave the upper room and go into the night. But where do they go?

John 18:1 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.

He went into a garden, the garden of Gesthemane. And here, leaving His disciples to sleep, He anticipates His final, perfect act of Redemption. While Jesus is in this agony, Judas, having collected his thirty pieces of silver, leads the mob to Jesus. But how does Judas know where He will be?

John 18:2 And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. 3 Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.

Of course! Jesus must be in the garden, for He often went there with His disciples. It was a place that He loved to go, to rest, to pray. But this time He is taken by the soldiers, unjustly tried, mocked, scourged, and sent to Calvary, bearing His own cross. He is nailed to that cross and lifted up between heaven and earth (John 3:14-15). On the cross He enters into the darkness and completes the work of redemption, suffering the wrath of God that we deserved, so that we might be delivered from our sin and its consequences. But the darkness clears and the Savior remains! “Finished!” He cries. What happens next is fitting because in life the Lord Jesus had no place of His own, saying to the crowd at one point, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. (Matt 8:20)” But here at last He finds the only place to rest His head: His own breast.

John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

Jesus is dead. Where will He be buried?

John 19:41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. 42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

His body is laid in a new tomb which is, of course, in a garden.

Now we move ahead to Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, and the women come to the garden to anoint the body of their beloved Lord. They came early, and one can only assume that the men are still sleeping. Who is there first?

John 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

Peter and John run to the garden and enter the sepulchre, but they are baffled. They still do not understand that the Messiah, their crucified Lord, must rise from the dead. They leave, but Mary, completely distraught, remains behind.

John 20:10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. 11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. 14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15 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. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Not recognizing the Lord through her tears, Mary nevertheless perceives someone asking her a question, and she assumes it is the gardener! God’s character has never changed since the days of creation and it never will.

The Song of Songs is the poem of the Bridegroom and the Bride. Our Bridegroom has ascended into glory. The daughters ask, “Where has He gone?”

Song 6:1 Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee. 2 My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. 3 I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.

I am my Beloved’s, and He is mine! He is in His heavenly garden, and for now we are away from Him. But we know He will return for us, our Savior, our Bridegroom, our Beloved, our Gardener. We will hear His voice and be caught up to meet Him, and so shall we ever be with the Lord (1Th 4:13-17).

Song 2:8 The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. 9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice. 10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. 11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; 12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle [dove] is heard in our land; 13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away!

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Rev 22:20

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Your Heart

English is a language that is full of nuance. The meaning or concept behind a statement can change depending on the tone in which it is spoken (for example, sarcastically), or on the emphasis that is given to different words. I’m not sure if other languages are like this, but it lends a versatility to English that can be very useful.

When my children were young, it was always difficult to get them to do what they were told. I know this is not unusual, but with my oldest daughter (you can find her here) every direction I gave was met with a “discussion”, i.e., an argument. I remember one day I had reached the end of my rope, so I said to her, “Clean your room. Clean your room. Clean your room. Clean your room.” I then explained what I meant by each of the ways I said the same sentence.

Clean your room. Of all the things you can do to your room, clean it.”
“Clean your room. Of all the rooms that can be cleaned, clean yours.”
“Clean your room. Of all the things you have that can be cleaned, clean your room.”

There is a statement in Proverbs 23:26 that can be stated in the same manner:
My child, give me your heart.

My child, give me your heart.
My child, give me your heart.
My child, give me your heart.
My child, give me your heart.
My child, give me your heart.
My child, give me your heart.

I am going to look at this from the point of view of a person who has accepted Christ as Savior, who is born again, and has been made a child of God.

My child, give me your heart.
To whom do we belong? Each of us is a child of our parents, but here is a reminder that each of us is God’s child as well. In fact, his claim on us takes precedence over earthly relationships. He sent his only Son to die for us, to pay the price of freedom, to redeem us out of our slavery to sin. 1 Cor 6:19-20 says, “ye are not your own… Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

My child, give me your heart.
What is my relationship to God? I am his child. I am not just a servant or a hired hand or a friend, but I am, in fact, his child. “But as many as received him, to them gave the power to become the sons of God, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13). We not only belong to God, we have been born again into a heavenly relationship with Him. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

My child, give me your heart.
We have a heart full of desires, and God wants it. How will he get it? Will he steal it from us without any input from us? Will he bribe us for it, buying our affection with gifts and promises? I suppose he could do those things or maybe others to gain our heart. But he won’t. He wants us to give it to him. Without any strings attached, he wants us to just hand it over to him. He wants us to give him all our affections, our desires, our longings, our love, without any thought from us that we will gain anything in return. Why would we do this? Because that’s what he did for us.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16.

He gave the greatest gift ever given to show his love for us. He sent his only son to become a man to win our hearts, and our response was to crucify him. Yet this was so he could create in us a new heart, one that would love him unconditionally (Ezek 36:26).

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
(Eph 2:4-7)

By the way, he doesn’t want us to lend it to him just for a while so we can have it back to turn our affections towards other things – he wants us to give it to him.

My child, give me your heart.
Of all the people and things we could give our heart to, he wants us to give it to him. Well, what does this even mean? It sounds kind of poetic and not very practical. How do I give my heart to anyone? Well, in a simple sense, what do you spend your time doing? You work to make a life for you and your family, to make sure they are well provided for, that you have time to enjoy the life you have built up. You have ambitions about what you will do with your life to be productive, to leave a positive mark on the world. There is nothing wrong with these things. God has left us here in order to be good stewards of the time and talents that he has given us (see Matt 25:14-29). But there is something else to consider.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
(Matt 6:19-21)

Our heart will follow wherever our treasure is. If we value the things of God, if we view our life from an eternal, heavenly perspective, even the treasure we gain here on earth will only reflect the treasure we are gaining in heaven: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Cor 2:9)”

My child, give me your heart.
When all is said and done, it is still my heart to do with as I please. Even though he paid such a high price to make it possible for me to even have a clean heart, he has left it under my control. It is up to me to give it to him or not. We all have a tendency to keep track of those around us and evaluate their behavior according to our sense of right and wrong. We always have a lot of advice for other people to follow as to the best course of action for them to take, especially as it relates to important, essential things. In fact, I am doing that right now, telling you how you ought to relate to God and eternity. But let’s look at the verse. God wants my heart. Yes, I know he wants your heart, too, but he wants mine. So this section is for me. I need to reconsider where my heart is, bring it back from wherever I have given it, and give it God.

My child, give me your heart.
Of all the things I have to give, God wants my heart. I can give him my time, my treasure, my talents, but he wants my heart and the love that is in it. He wants it all directed towards him. Most people are familiar with the “love” chapter from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. It is commonly read at weddings to express the feelings of the bride and bridegroom for one another. But read it again as if it is the love in your heart that is being spoken of and then make sure you have given it to God.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, [and] is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Love never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these [is] love.

My. Child. Give. Me. Your. Heart.

O the bitter shame and sorrow
that a time could ever be,
when I let the Savior’s pity
plead in vain, and proudly answered:
All of self, and none of thee!

Yet he found me: I beheld him
bleeding on the accursèd tree,
heard him pray: Forgive them, Father;
and my wistful heart said faintly:
Some of self and some of thee!

Day by day his tender mercy,
healing, helping, full and free:
sweet and strong, and ah! so patient,
brought me lower, while I whispered:
Less of self and more of thee!

Higher than the highest heaven,
deeper than the deepest sea;
Lord, thy love at last hath conquered;
grant me now my supplication:
None of self and all of thee!

Theodore Monod, 1874