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.