Jesus’ placement in the garden is an intentional, providential, God-inspired, connection back to the garden of Eden (cf. 2 Tim 3:16–17). Jesus rises from the dead as the greater Adam who succeeded where Adam failed, and He will reign forevermore over His Edenic kingdom on earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
My wife started a garden last year. Anyone who has done this knows that it is tedious work (it doesn’t matter if you have a green thumb or a brown thumb). You have to have the right soil composition. You have to have the right types of plants for each season. You have to make sure that the plants get enough water and not too much. You have to tend to them regularly and protect them from insects, and in our case, our Basset Hound.
What fascinates me is thinking about the garden of Eden, in light of gardening practices today. Some things would have remained the same. There would be land and plants. But other things would be entirely different… before sin, you wouldn’t have plants dying from pests or disease. The sun wouldn’t scorch the plants. You’d have enough water for them. There were no years of famine. It would have been a special place (to say the least), and that’s what we see presented in the Bible.
Then Yahweh God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and so the man became a living being. And Yahweh God planted a garden in Eden, toward the east; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.
God made Adam out of the earth that He just spoke into existence with a word, five days earlier. Subsequently, God planted a garden and put the man there. It is a garden before sin. The colors, fragrances, tastes, and growth were unaffected by the fall. It’s quite a stimulating thought.
I want to draw your attention to two observations which we will pair with the gospel of John later. The first observation I want to draw your attention to is found here. New life is found in the garden. Adam has just been fashioned and is in the garden. Adam is the first human to exist. His life is breathed into him and his direction is seen in him, as a new creation, beginning in a garden.
Next, we see what occurred within the garden in Gen 2:9. “And out of the ground Yahweh God caused to grow every tree that is desirable in appearance and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” The garden is full of produce that God causes to grow. It is a picture of God’s kindness as the fruit is good for food which should reveal God’s own character to Adam.
God made rivers and then tasks man with his job,
Then Yahweh God took the man and set him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. And Yahweh God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may surely eat; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat from it; for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
There’s more here than I will comment on. Suffice it to say, Adam is placed in the garden as God’s representative. That’s the second observation. Under God, Adam is tasked with ruling over the garden and that expands to the rest of the land and created order (cf. Gen 1:26–28). Adam is called to be faithful as God’s vice-regent. He is without sin, but his faithfulness must be proven. That’s seen in the wording of Gen 2:17.
So, life is breathed into the dirt, and Adam exists, he’s commissioned to be faithful as God’s representative, and his occupation is that of a gardener. Things are looking great.
As the story goes on, Adam sins. He betrays God and does the only thing God prohibited him from in Gen 2:17. Adam ate the forbidden fruit (cf. Gen 3:6). From that moment on, everything changed. Mankind was dead in sin. Man’s relationship with God was fractured. Sin tainted man, making him depraved. The colors, fragrance, sounds, and beauty of the garden of Eden too would have diminished. Sin affected the world over because of Adam’s sin. We have all been affected, but one Man.