Mary Magdalene and Christ the Gardener

“Mary Magdalene turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know it was Jesus…supposing him to be the gardener.”
–John 20:14, 15

Mary Magdalene is the first person to encounter the risen Christ. It’s no accident that the gospel writer of John has Mary mistaking Jesus for the gardener. A gardeners work is like going home, with their hands in the soil ( humans from the humus). This is Jesus continuing to show us that resurrection and new life and our hope of heaven happen here on the ground. In the dirt, loving where it hurts in the humus of humanity. This is a Christ it may be hard to recognize. It is not a risen Christ in bright glowing robes, but Christ in muddy robes ( and in Rembrandt’s version of the moment, a beat up straw gardener’s hat and shovel) Its Mary who is the first to recognize this Jesus. A woman becomes the first to share the first fruits of the resurrection. “An Apostle to the Apostles”

Having been a farmer and grown produce I’ve always wanted to paint an icon of this moment and played around with ideas for the last few years but I finally made time late last year and just finished.

Using the traditional resurrection icons of Mary and Jesus on easter morning I wanted to flip the image around. Instead of Jesus towering over Mary Magdalene, I wanted to show Mary standing tall looking for Jesus and finding Christ the Gardener down on the ground with the plants. “Unless a seed falls into the ground and dies it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

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