The Bible has a lot to do with gardens. What a wonderful analogy of new life, new growth and new beauty, reflected in God’s desire in each Christian. This resurrection morning, we are surrounded by that life, growth and beauty. Think back to what it must have looked like for Adam and Even in that original garden, the Garden of Eden:
7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
8 The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.
9 Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 1:7-9 (NASB)
After the LORD created man, He also had prepared a garden to provide food and beauty to the man He had created. In addition to the trees being “pleasing to the sight,” those same trees were also “good for food.”
15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;
17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
Genesis 1:15-17 (NASB)
Man’s first job was as a gardener! God gave Adam the calling of cultivating that garden. Remember, the Garden of Eden was without sin, before sin, and consequently, it was more perfect than any garden we could ever imagine. Yet sin came to that garden, and through Adam, that sin has been passed down to every man. Without God’s miracle of forgiveness in each of our lives, we would still be slaves to that sin. Instead, He has removed our slavery to sin and replaced it. We are now slaves to righteousness!
This journey continued in another garden, the Garden of Gethsemane.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus often went to pray, and that’s where He was the night before His crucifixion:
39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him.
40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray,
42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.
44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.
45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow,
46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Luke 22:39-46 (NASB)
Part of life on this earth is to know the pain of being in what appears to be a hopeless situation. Hopelessness could be the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, or even homelessness. Even Christians can be in situations that seem hopeless, but they only seem hopeless for God is our hope! On that night, Jesus found Himself in a situation that seemed to offer no way of escape. When Jesus felt the weight of the world dropping onto His shoulders, He went to His Father in prayer, in that garden, located in Jerusalem at the base of the Mount of Olives.
It was the same garden where Jesus reminded His disciples to join Him in prayer, saying, “Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:46) In fact, it was in this same garden where Judas brought the guards when he betrayed Jesus with a kiss. (Luke 22:47-53)
We know that Jesus prayed three separate times that if it was the Father’s will, to let this cup pass from Him. Anticipating the events to come, our Lord sweated blood. It is difficult to imagine that kind of stress or anxiety.
In Hebrew, Gethsemane means “oil press.” In the Bible, olive oil is emblematic of the Holy Spirit. We are to keep oil in our lamps to keep those lamps lit (Matthew 25). Even the process of making olive oil points to our Lord, as when the olive is crushed, the oil remains. When Jesus was crushed, beaten and bruised, He left the Holy Spirit in His place. We never should lose sight of what our Savior endured for us, accepting His Father’s will to suffer in our places by becoming a man, for God cannot suffer. Though the physical pain was great, it was the separation from His Father that pained Jesus the most. He did not only carry our sins, He became sin for us.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)
After His crucifixion, the next part of that story occurred in another garden nearby:
41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
42 Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
John 19:41-42 (NASB)
Jesus was laid in that Garden Tomb. Some have stated that it could have been a time share, for Jesus did not need it for long. On the third day, He rose from the dead. When His followers came to the tomb, the stone had been rolled away and Jesus was gone! He is risen!
Part of the issue we are facing in times of trial is faith. Do we truly believe what God has told us in His Word? If we do, then we will realize that every trial that He allows in our lives, He already has handled by making two promises. We can handle the trial and there is a way of escape. Jesus prayed for a way of escape before He went to the cross. The fact that the Father did not offer a way of escape confirmed to Jesus, and should remind us, that there was no other way for us to have a relationship with the Father apart from the events of the cross. The Father loved Jesus so much, yet Isaiah 53 reminds us,
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.” It pleased the Father, for through that bruising, He opened the door for us to know His love. While on the cross, Jesus endured physical pain, ridicule and shame, but what grieved Him most was the loss of relationship with His Father. We see this pain reflected in His words, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Notice that Jesus did not refer to God as Father in that statement. Also notice that God is mentioned twice. Jesus was speaking to the Father and the Holy Spirit! Jesus endured that loss of relationship while on the cross and it was overwhelming. It is the same loss of relationship that each person in hell will feel, though they will feel that pain for all of eternity. The Bible teaches us that “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD.” It is difficult to imagine what it will be like for those who failed to acknowledge His LORDSHIP while on earth, and for eternity, after having seen Him, will know that chance at relationship has passed!
When we find ourselves in troublesome situations and feel alone, know Jesus will join us in our Garden of Gethsemane. He never will leave us, or forsake us. How much oil is in your lamp?