From a Grave to a Garden

Our sin, Scripture says, has not only put a curse over us; it has released one into us.

Death is at work in us, and that shows up in the form of addictions, hate, selfishness, anger, idolatry and ruined relationships.

Maybe you have that brokenness in you today. You’ve tried to clean it up and change and do better, but none of it has ever really worked. There’s still a darkness in you that you can’t overcome.

Jesus’ resurrection means that there is a power in the world that can overcome that in you.

“[I]f anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

“Behold” is the word in the Bible that indicates a miracle is about to happen. It points to something God does, not something you do. The newness in your life is not you resolving to be better but the release of God’s power in you.

This means that Jesus is not only able to forgive every sin; he can release you from the power of sin, and he can reverse and restore whatever sin has ruined.

One of the women that came to Jesus’ tomb was Mary Magdalene. The Gospel of Mark tells us that when Mary first met Jesus, she had not one, not two, not three, but seven demons. Seven is the biblical number of completion: That’s Mark’s way of saying she was hopelessly consumed by the demonic.

Think for a moment about a life with seven demons. It would have been a mess. She would have looked like she was mentally ill. Scripture says she was a prostitute; she had destroyed every relationship in her life. Everyone thought of her as beyond redemption.

Before Jesus, her life could only be described as hopeless, destitute, cast out, forgotten.

But in Luke 8, Mary Magdalene falls at Jesus’ feet and finds healing.

Mary Magdalene was the first one to go back to the tomb alone. Evidently, there was a small garden near the tomb, and she was in it, weeping. There, Jesus appears to her—the first person he appears to directly. At first, because of her grief, she doesn’t recognize him. She thinks he’s the gardener and begs him to tell her where Jesus’ body is.

Then Jesus calls her name, and she recognizes him. What a beautiful moment! The first person Jesus appears to after being resurrected is a former prostitute with seven demons—and he calls her by name.

Mary Magdalene came to the grave looking for a dead man. She didn’t find one. Instead, a living Man found her. “Grave to garden” is a metaphor for her life. She had been in a grave with seven demons, and now she’s in a garden of new life in Christ.

That can be you! If you listen, right now he’s calling your name. It’s not audible, of course. It is a sweet draw in your heart, beckoning you to come.

Maybe, like Mary, you’re literally struggling against spiritual forces, or maybe it’s addictions or sinful habits you can’t break, or relationships that you’ve destroyed. Mary says to you: I had seven demons in me. But here is gospel, resurrection truth: There is more healing in him than there is sickness in us, more forgiveness in him than there is sin in us. There is no struggle, no addiction, no brokenness that his power cannot heal.

Let Jesus turn your grave into a garden.

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This article originally appeared on and is reposted here by permission.

J.D. Greear
J.D. Greear

J.D. Greear is the pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, and is currently serving as the 62nd president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is the author of several books, including most recently Essential Christianity: The Heart of the Gospel in Ten Words (The Good Book Company).