Sometimes I think about the sweet deal Adam and Eve had in the garden of Eden. God made man, then planted an incredible garden just for him to live in! Read it:
Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. – Genesis 2:8-9
It really was a sweet deal. Adam and Eve lived in a utopia, a veritable paradise. Moreover, this was a world before the inception of sin. God walked in the garden because there was no wall of transgression to block us off from him, no chasm of iniquity to divide us. And then we sinned. I use the pronoun “we” because, even though Adam and Eve ate the fruit, this singular act represented our fall as a race. We quite literally had Heaven on Earth, and we blew it. God had to send us away; we were a fallen people.
Ever since, we’ve been trying to get back to the garden.
Philosophy. History. Religion. All vain attempts to recapture the life we had in the garden. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave describes the need to move from the darkness into the light, to move out of the cave into the beauty of reality. What Plato didn’t understand is that we chose the cave when we rejected the garden; if God cast us out, we can’t just sneak back in. Wars are fought in an attempt to regain the peace we had in the garden; unfortunately, in this world perpetual peace can’t happen. We’re too far gone. Religion also seeks a return to the garden; people might call it Nirvana, Heaven, Elysium, Enlightenment, Valhalla – the point is that we have a longing for paradise, a longing for the communion with God that we had in the garden of Eden.
All attempts to regain paradise failed.
God kicked us out. Only God could invite us back in.
And he did. Two thousand years ago Jesus brought paradise back in another garden, one called Gethsemane. I know that our salvation was provided on the cross; but it was won in the garden of Gethsemane. The Romans didn’t force Jesus onto the cross, and it wasn’t the Pharisees. Not even the enemy, that great deceiver had the power to take Jesus’ life. Only Jesus had the power to give his life up. And he was afraid:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” – Matthew 26:39
Jesus was fully God, but also fully man. As such, he feared the physical pain he would have to suffer on the cross. But backing out was not part of the plan; backing out wouldn’t get us back into the garden.
Jesus loved us. He still does. He wanted us to have the opportunity to dwell with God as we did in Eden. So in Gethsemane he won the battle by submitting to his Father’s will. His good and pleasing will. Now we can have communion with God, and we have the hope of an even greater communion when we reach the New Jerusalem, the river, and the Tree of Life.
We had life in the garden. We lost it. Jesus brought it back.
Matthew Westacott, OWI Youth Leader