It is our final day of “Plant a Pot O’ Bible,” a container planting carried on throughout Lent to grasp a deeper understanding of who God is and what He has done. Along the way, have you wondered, “Who puts the panorama of God in a pot?!” A gardener, that’s who! Though God cannot be contained—
But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!
1 Kings 8:27 NIV
still, he leads us to associate his works with things our hands can hold onto, memorials assembled with working hands.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
1 Samuel 7:12 NIV
Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you… These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.
Joshua 4:5…7 NIV
Such mementos help us to be constantly reminded and keep us constantly recounting His presence, provision, and personal rapport, as he recommends.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NIV
Recounting the Lord in our Planting
We have seen in God’s Word how the Lord knows us, and planted nigella and cumin; how He forgives us, and planted hyssop; and how He heals us, and planted chamomile. Next we read with awe how these create God’s possibilities, and planted mustard; how His just, merciful, and fruitful character determines God’s prevailing, and planted mint and dill nearby the cumin.
The Lord’s Victory
And now for the crowning moment, the Lord’s victory! A final herb to signify Jesus’ triumph in dying the death we were all destined for, a victory because in death He could not be contained.
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
Acts 2:24 NIV
Our final plant for the “Pot O’ Bible” heralds the victory of Jesus’ life, as bay laurel swags and wreaths have lauded triumphant heroes since ancient times. However, where this plant is alluded to in Scripture, it also stands in the tension necessitating Jesus’ saving act, the advance and apparent flourish of evil and ungodliness.
I have seen a wicked, ruthless man, spreading himself like a green laurel tree…
Mark the blameless and behold the upright… The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them
Psalm 37:35, 37, 40 ESV
The Green and the Dry
By staking the center of our pot weeks ago, we were doing much more than holding a spot for our final herb. We were paying homage to the place where Jesus hung in order to save our lives. Our sins sentence us to a criminal’s death, represented in dead, dry wood; it is Jesus, the Righteous One, depicted in green wood, who died that death on our behalf.
For if they do these things when the wood is green, what is going to happen when it’s dry?” Two other men, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. When they came to the place called The Skull, they nailed him to a stake; and they nailed the criminals to stakes, one on the right and one on the left.
Luke 23:31-33 CJB
Our compassionate God, faithful to His Word, counts Jesus’ death a just fulfillment of our penalty. The cross symbol over the centuries has memorialized this exchange—his death for ours—carrying overtones of the tree-cursed death described to ancient Israel:
If someone has committed a capital crime and is put to death, then hung on a tree, his body is not to remain all night on the tree, but you must bury him the same day, because a person who has been hanged has been cursed by God
Deuteronomy 21:22 CJB
Plant a Pot O’ Bible
Remove the branch that helped to stake the center of the pot all of these planting weeks for our crowning moment: Replacing the dry, dead wood with a green, living little tree, a 4” start of bay laurel.
Now our pot is complete with mustard, nigella, cumin, and dill creating the “thrill” of fine, taller foliage, a backdrop to bay laurel flanked by hyssop and mint “fill”-ing out the center, and chamomile soon to “spill” over the front with more wispy foliage and delightful flowers as spring unfolds.
for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away (Psalm 37:2 NIV)…a reminder that the “thrill” plants are annuals, and will die away in warm weather. Meanwhile the others will endure (bring indoors in zone 7 and colder winters), and eventually you will have a green bay tree!
Remember these are all edible, bringing not only beauty and devotion to the day, but sprinklings of flavor for daily meals. Add diced dill and mustard leaves to Easter’s egg salad, and a bay leaf to this week’s leftovers soup, for starters.
Enjoy this Hallelujah Sunday and may your pot prompt a story or two as you have guest to visit your garden.
The Garden in Delight blog will be bi-weekly for the remainder of the year as I prepare for new books and events. See you April 7th!
Still, it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.
Out of that terrible travail of soul, he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
will make many “righteous ones,”
as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch
Isaiah 53:10-12 The Message
Read more on bay laurel in a devotion on Psalm 37:35 from the series Jesus the Seed, Root, Branch and Firstfruits in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, pages a-47 & a-48
Find more garden-to-table information in our Plant Guide:
Bay Laurel – gardenndelight.wpengine.com/plant-guide/bay-laurel/
Bay Laurel in 4” starts or 1 gallon pots are fairly common at local nurseries specializing in herbs. For online ordering, see Monrovia (sold as Sweet Bay) (unpaid endorsement)
Pictured this week is ‘Red Giant’ mustard from my local nursery, replacing ‘Ruby Streaks’ which bolted and became too tall in our spring-is-here weather
For more on the “Thrill-Fill-Spill” formula for container planting, see Fine Gardening by Steve Silk
©2016 Shelley S. Cramm
Many thanks to the invaluable work of David H. Stern, Complete Jewish Bible and Jewish New Testament Commentary