-by Pastor Jacob Marshall, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.
*Also a very special thank you to my wife Samantha for helping out on the audio recording since my voice is still out of order from allergies. Thanks sweetheart!
It’s difficult to make sense of anything in the Bible or our world without first understanding something that took place in an ancient garden. In a world crafted by God, our ancestors, Adam and Eve, found themselves in a paradise made for their care and enjoyment.
Into that garden though came the presence of a clever rebel. “Did God really say…” slithered easily off this one’s deceitful lips as he questioned Eve about God’s words, undermining his character, subverting his authority, and introducing doubt in God’s love.
In one fatal decision, Adam and Eve, and all humanity in them, chose to doubt and rebel against the greatest good, our God. Humanity now lived in a thorny world under the influence of Satan. Separated from God by sin and facing the dread of looming death, they were unable to save themselves. This garden, Eden, stood as a tragic reminder at the beginning of the Bible to humanity’s sinful failure.
Years later though, a young man and his disciples came late one night into another garden, one called Gethsemane.
Having just been served a large meal and with the night getting late, the disciples foremost concern was sleep. Jesus’ though was prayer. Taking three of them apart with him, he spoke in a troubled voice, “My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.” Walking away to pray though, it was not long before their heads began to nod off in sleep.
At this moment, it’s impossible for us to grasp the utter loneliness Jesus must have felt. His closest disciples had chosen sleep over him, and one of his inner circle was actively betraying him for a pauper’s price to priests who would soon demand his arrest and crucifixion by the Romans. This looked like another garden failure.
But Jesus was different. Instead of failure, three times God the Son called out in perfect submission and dependence to God the Father, praying “not what I will but what you will.” Facing the dreaded thought of himself, God the Son, becoming sin and receiving our divine punishment for sin, he willingly submitted to the only way God’s redemptive plan could be accomplished.
Rising from prayer as torch lights from the approaching mob flickered in the distance, Jesus had remained faithful in the garden. Where Adam had failed in the best circumstances, in a garden of paradise, Jesus had proven faithful in the worst circumstances, alone in a garden of agony.
May it never be doubted, the victory that would be accomplished at Calvary was won in Gethsemane.
Now go and read it yourself in Mark 14:34-42.