The Garden

by Michael J. Klassen

They were his last moments of freedom, of eternity clothed in flesh. He had already eaten his final supper with his 12 disciples and washed their feet. How would Jesus spend his remaining moments?

“Let’s go pray,” he said to his closest friends. So, Jesus returned to the Garden.

Returned? you ask.

Two weeks ago, I submitted some thoughts about Adam and Eve in the garden. In the beginning, history’s first couple lived in the garden of Eden—and in the cool of the day, they enjoyed going on relaxing walks with God. Communion for them consisted not of bread and wine, but of unhindered communication with their God.

Then we read in Genesis 3:8 that Adam and Eve hid themselves from their Creator while he was looking for them to set out on another walk. Their sin created a wall of separation between them and God. And one of the consequences of their sin was expulsion from the intimacy of the garden.

The Old Testament prophets spoke directly to this separation from God: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2 (NIV)

Fast forward to Good Friday (which, according to the Hebrew calendar, begins at sundown on the previous night). In his final remaining hours, Jesus returned to the garden. He returned because as a member of the Trinity, Jesus walked with Adam and Eve via his inclusion with the Father and Spirit.

Although none of the accounts in the Gospels record it, I can’t resist speculating that somewhere in his conversation with his heavenly Father, Jesus said something like this:

Daddy, do you remember the walks we used to take with Adam and Eve? As the sun began setting in Eden in the cool of the day, we bared our hearts with them, and they bared their hearts with us. Do you remember?

And then it all changed. After eating from the tree in the garden, they suddenly grew ashamed of their nakedness. Their sins created a wall between us and them. How I miss those conversations.

So here I stand in the garden again—prepared to undo what has been done.

After he finished praying, the soldiers appeared and escorted him first to a Jewish trial, then a Roman trial, and finally, down the crowded but lonely Via Dolorosa to the cross.

Lastly, on that first Good Friday, we read:

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Matthew 27:50–51 (NIV)

The curtain was torn.

Once again, the curtain that separated humanity from communion with God was irreparably torn in two. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, our sins were once-and-for-all forgiven, and we were given access to enjoy unhindered communion with God.

Just like Adam and Eve enjoyed with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Garden.

Today’s readings: Matthew 26:36-56; John 18:13-19:16; Luke 23:26-49; Mark 15:42-47.

If you don’t have plans for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning–and you live in the Denver area–we invite you to worship with us at The Neighborhood Church. We meet every Sunday morning at 10:00am at Dakota Ridge High School.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

6 responses to “The Garden

  1. Georgie-ann

    This yearly recurring Holy Week is a very pointed reminder of just how brutal and cruel and hateful our true enemy really is. And how merciless and completely bent on and sold out to destruction: yours, mine, ours, the world, God’s kingdom. It is a picture of the intense level of “spiritual warfare” that was required of innocent beings to achieve our “open door” to freedom from that monster, satan and his malignant legion of insane cohorts.

    When we recoil in horror at the capacity of a human to burn a kitten in an oven, or to cruelly and thoughtlessly torture poor little puppies, or to put their own little baby in a microwave and turn it on, we don’t realize that we are yet only getting a very small glimpse of the “bottomless pit” capacity for complete depravity that is his indelible signature. The only thing that could erase that signature of “ownership”/possession over us, was the Blood of Christ, a price and sacrifice that Jesus was willing to make on our behalf to rescue and redeem us from our foolishness and folly, and from the completely intentional steel-hard, cold and cruel hatred of satan, — his grip, his influence, his trap — our relentless co-opting taskmaster.

    When we “see” the crowds condemning and nailing Jesus to the cross, we not only see “how low humanity can go,” but we also see what satan, as the god of this world, is really all about. Is there a single “issue” in this world that doesn’t have his unmistakeable fingerprints on it? The “calling evil good” rationales that we hear repeated over and over, AND the “calling good evil” accusations, lies and distortions by which he smears the finest and the highest things offered to us by God in this life.

    No wonder God had to give us the Word as “the Law” to clarify the important Truths so twisted and confused and obscured by satan’s evil machinations and motivations. Satan wants nothing more than to smear and desecrate every good thing in God’s creation — to “kill, steal and destroy” — and he found a way to USE US to help him do it. Getting free of satan’s grip is impossible — absolutely impossible — for a human to accomplish without Divine assistance. No amount of will power, or good intentions and ideals, by themselves will be enough to loose these bonds. He has and will continue to implant his nasty, seductive and controlling tentacles into everything not covered and redeemed for God by the Blood of Christ.

    Do you ever have ideas that “come to you,” try to influence you, that you KNOW are “just wrong?” Where do they come from? That’s how close and how easily satan is able to reach into us, into our minds, and plant his subtle “suggestions”. We ARE very “suggestible” in our fallen condition, and he knows this very well.

    “Fighting the good fight of faith” is necessary in our daily walk with Christ, but it is a fight He fought and won first, for us, on the Cross. At times, we will encounter stronger times and areas of “resistance,” and then we’ll get a more complete picture of just how staunch, rebellious, and vicious our enemy is. We may become involved in battles for righteousness, personal or societal. Even a small taste of his toxic venom can “throw you for a loop.” But, that’s ok. In God, our faithful God, “we get knocked down, but we get up again!” I don’t know anybody who did that better than Jesus Christ!

    The servant, not being better than the master, can do no better than to follow suit.

    Ultimately, this world is destined for destruction. But meanwhile, we are busy about “redeeming the time,” having chosen to “follow our leader,” Jesus Christ and the instructions given to us in the Bible by our Father God, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

    Scripture references:

    Isaiah 5:20,21
    20 “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

    21 “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and prudent and shrewd in their own sight!”

    John 10:10
    “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

    1 Timothy 6:12
    “Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses.”

    2 Timothy 4:7 (Paul speaks)
    “I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith.”

    Matthew 10:23-25
    23 “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: …

    24 “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.

    25 “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?”

    Ephesians 5:15-17
    15 “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

    16 “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

    17 “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”

  2. All the more reason to flee the vortex of evil the best that we can. My flesh is all too eager to partner with the enemy of our souls.

    But thanks be to God, Easter is about the victory of light over darkness, life over death, good over evil, and God over Satan and the powers of darkness!

  3. Georgie-ann

    Amen!!

  4. Georgie-ann

    More Scripture references:

    Luke 21:33 “The sky and the earth ( the universe, the world) will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”

    1 Corinthians 2:6 “Yet when we are among the full-grown (spiritually mature Christians who are ripe in understanding), we do impart a [higher] wisdom (the knowledge of the divine plan previously hidden); but it is indeed not a wisdom of this present age or of this world nor of the leaders and rulers of this age, who are being brought to nothing and are doomed to pass away.”

    Re: your comment:

    Romans 8:7 “[That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot.” (Amplified )

    Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” (New King James)

    I just want to say that there are beautiful things having to do with/ concerning our flesh, since after all, we have been created in God’s image. When we focus on the vulnerability and inclination of the “carnal mind” to be drawn into satan’s playgrounds, sometimes it sounds like an indictment on all flesh. I agree that all flesh is vulnerable in this world’s conditions to all sorts of wrong paths, but “in God” there are many beautiful things that he has put here for us to enjoy, and has even provided a certain amount of protection and transforming blessing that enables us to “do it right” and be a blessing ourselves!

    1 Peter 3:8-12
    8 “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For

    “ He who would love life
    And see good days,
    Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
    And his lips from speaking deceit.
    11 Let him turn away from evil and do good;
    Let him seek peace and pursue it.
    12 For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
    And His ears are open to their prayers;
    But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.”*

    *(this is a quote from Psalm 34:12-16)

    Often, we’ll hear people talking about the spiritual battle being fought “in the mind.” God may get our heart, but we still need more “work!” We’ve been conditioned by our earthly circumstances in many improper ways, possibly even having liked and been drawn into some of them, but if the end result is illusion/delusion, bondage and spiritual death, who really needs it?

    Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

    Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

  5. Georgie-ann

    The Catholic Church is “big” on the work/effect of receiving Holy Communion as an important pathway by which we receive and grow the spiritual substance of the Body and Blood of Christ (His true nature) within us. My experience with this over time does confirm this. Receiving His “free gift” in this way, is an important aid to our desires and efforts to grow spiritually and mature effectively in living and enjoying and sharing our Christian lives.

    Happy Easter! Praise to our Risen Lord!

  6. elna

    according to John 19:41 Jesus died in/near to a garden and He was buried there! there’s a school of thought that the garden of Eden was situated where Jerusalem is situated. However, Jesus died in the garden and paid the price for man’s sin in full!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s