Many years ago in my young formative years I came to understand that when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, after the final meal he had shared with those closest to him – and prior to his arrest by the Roman Soldiers – as he was praying – he was in terrible mental and emotional pain and distress because he knew what was going to happen to him next. He knew, because he was God and was all-knowing, that he was to suffer the most terrible of torment – death on a cross for our sins. His death would ‘appease’ God the Father, bringing us forgiveness and reconciliation for our sins. Jesus was terrified of what lay ahead and that was the reason why he sweated drops of blood.
“And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
It pays to read all four of the Gospel records of the events of this most fateful of nights leading to Jesus’ crucifixion to gain a full understanding of what actually happened. (Matthew 26:36-56, Mark 14:32-52, Luke 22:40-53 and John 18:1-11)
Those were the thoughts of a young person – me at the time, but I have since managed to grow up mentally, emotionally and more importantly I believe I am growing spiritually. I need to understand what really happened then and why.
Today at Church our Pastor preached on Jesus’ time and horrific suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane. He brought to my attention the specific relevance of the pair of gardens – Eden and Gethsemane and what occurred in both. Adam (in Eden) the first man who turned away from God – Jesus (in Gethsemane) the New Adam turning us back to God.
The evil one aka Satan, the snake was there in Eden. It was he who tempted Eve to doubt the word of God. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Gen 2:16-17. Then along came Satan who skilfully worded his question to sow the seed of doubt in Eve’s mind.
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Of course Eve not suspecting his character, answered him thus: “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” Gen 3:2-3.
Of course we know what happened next: “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Gen 3:4-5
In effect Satan not only calls God a liar, but also manages to convince Eve that she will not die, and that when she eats of the ‘forbidden fruit’ she will become like God. Of course she eats of it and tempts Adam to do the same. God is seriously angry and throws them both out of Eden and forces them to live a life of pain and suffering forever more.
(That brings to mind another of my younger (mis) understandings…. that the ‘forbidden fruit’ was akin to having sexual relations with a man. Young minds are very easily swayed and sex and sin always went hand in hand in my young mind.)
Our Pastor today challenged us to look again at Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ – specifically at the scene in Gethsemane which leads up to Jesus’ arrest. Gibson’s interpretation, which I believe is wonderful, shows Satan trying to tempt Jesus away from the sacrifice He is about to make on our behalf. Satan had earlier tried to tempt Jesus into following him as lord and master – Jesus resisted back then and Jesus resisted here in Gethsemane. Jesus is the New Adam, obeying God, believing in God’s word and promises.
The first Adam (and his wife) were seriously deceived by Satan. The new Adam – Jesus of Nazareth fights with all of his will power to obey God’s promises and refuses to be deceived (perhaps this is why “His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.” (Luke 22:44). In the final scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is shown crushing the snake under his heel thereby fulfilling what God spoke to Satan in Eden after the Fall of Man. In Genesis 3:15 God said: “I’ll place hostility between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring. He’ll strike you on the head, and you’ll strike him on the heel.”
Satan was there in the Garden doing everything possible to try to get Jesus to change his mind about offering up His life to save us from our transgressions and heal our relationship with Father God. I for one am eternally grateful Jesus chose to turn to God and Trust in God’s promise. That wretched evil one is still active today, doing all that is possible to deceive us and turn us away from the life we have been promised with God – everlasting.
How can I show this gratitude? I can give myself completely into the hands of God – trusting His words and believing in everlasting life through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I can seek forgiveness, which is freely given when I acknowledge that I am a sinful person who endeavours to change her way of life – from sinfulness to humility under Christ. I can acknowledge that Jesus died for me – me personally. He knew every sin I would commit, even those I hide in the deep dark recesses of my mind, yet Jesus freely chose to add those to the unnumbered multitude of other sins He carried with Him to Calvary.
Jesus is my way to an eternal future with God. My earthly body is but a vessel – ashes to ashes, but my soul, the breath of God that lives in me will go forward to eternity thanks to the great sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary all those many (2000+) years ago.
Who can I turn to and who can I trust? Jesus Christ. How can I be so certain? Because He trusted in God His Father and rose from the dead to ascend into glory!