Two Gardens


"After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees." - John 18:1
"Not what I want, but what you want." - Mark 14:36

John's gospel begins with these words: "In the beginning...". John chose these particular words as a way of pointing to the meaning of the gospel. With them he intended to take us back to Genesis.

The story of Adam and Eve serves as the backdrop of John's gospel. Adam and Eve were given a garden in which to live. God planted the garden and then called them to tend it. There, before a tree, they were tested and tempted. They succumbed to the tempter, turned from God's way; and Paradise was lost. Their story is, of course, our story. Each of us has known the will of God; but at some time, at some level, we have turned away from it. We have eaten the forbidden fruit.

John alone tells us that the place where Jesus prayed on the night he was arrested was a garden. Matthew and mark do not tell us this; they only tell us it was the place of the oil press (this is the meaning of the word "Gethsemane"). The gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives but is no more specific. John alone tells us that Jesus went to a garden to pray.

In this garden Eden was being reversed. Jesus' public ministry began with the temptation to lay aside God's will and to accept all the riches of the world from the hands of the devil. And now here, at the end of his life, Jesus was in a garden, facing the temptation to save himself and flee. I wonder what the serpent whispered to him that night: "Did God really intend for you to suffer and die?" Or, "Surely you don't believe that if you die, anything will change." Or, "What good will you be when you are dead?" Or, "Do you really believe that this band of misfits you call disciples can carry on your mission? Look at them--they're sleeping! It's not too late, Jesus. Run!"

Two gardens. In one, Adam and Eve were warned that death would come if they disobeyed; and they still could not resist the forbidden fruit. In the other, Jesus was told he could avoid death if he would only disobey. How different were the responses to temptation between the first Adam and Jesus (whom Paul calls the second Adam). In the first garden, Adam prayed "Not thy will, but mine be done"; and Paradise was lost. In the second garden, as the disciples slept and the Temple guard made their way across the Kidron Valley, Jesus prayed, "Not my will, but thine be done." His prayer was central to the restoration of what had been lost in Eden.

What Adam lost, Jesus will restore.

"Adam was God’s first man in creation—
He through sin brought death to all mankind;
Jesus came to earth to bring salvation:
Trusting Him, eternal life we’ll find." —Hess

God formed us; sin deformed us; Christ transforms us.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, popularized the following prayer, meant to help those who use it to follow in Jesus' footsteps, surrendering to the will of God:

- Adam Hamilton "24 Hours that Changed the World: 40 Days of Reflection"

"I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what you will. Rank me with whom you will. Put me to doing; put me to suffering. Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full. Or let me be empty. Let me have all things. Or let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. Amen." -John Wesley
Jul 22 2018