Dear woman, why are you crying?" Jesus asked her. "Who are you looking for?" She thought he was the gardener. "Sir," she said, "if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him."
- John 20:15
First, she recognizes him as a servant. Perhaps he was simply dressed, in a white tunic, scanty, old and worn. The cloth may have been colored from the sweat of his body, tight fitting, short, as if it is a hand’s breath below the knee, looking thread-bare. He probably looked like a servant. There is something miraculous here to think about. He had done the greatest labor and the hardest work there is.
Secondly, she recognized him as the gardener. He was the one who takes care of the garden, caring for fragile, new life in spring. He digs and sweats, turning soil over and over. He waters at the proper time. He continues in his work, eventually making sweet streams to run, and fine plenteous fruit to grow.
He was a servant in the garden on that day Mary saw him. He was also a gardener. By his labor—his passion, death, descent into Hades, resurrection and ascension—Christ reveals himself as the Master Gardener who gardens our humanity and returns us to health and newness of life.
“Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
Christ was recognized as a servant and a gardener, and then he revealed himself to Mary. Christ is the ultimate servant. He placed himself on a cross as a living sacrifice to all who would call on his name. His life, death, resurrection, and ascension show his unbounding love for a lost humanity, transplanting us to a new garden where health and new life is embraced. He is the Master Gardener.