"Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)
In the opening chapter of the book of Genesis, we read of a sumptuous garden that God planted. Eden was earth’s paradise and must have been beautiful beyond our wildest imaginings. When we enter the New Testament, in its first book, we read of two more gardens. One speaks of death, the other of life, yet both are inexorably linked.
The first of these gardens is called Gethsemane, an olive grove at the foot of the western slopes of the Mount of Olives. Jesus at times withdrew there with his disciples. On this occasion, a hush had descended upon the garden. The mood was somber, ominous. It was like no other ordinary night.
“Then Jesus... took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:37-38)
Peter, James and John managed to stay awake long enough to witness Jesus praying in an agony and saying “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)
A short time later, the hush was broken as soldiers descended upon the garden, taking with them the one who people hoped ‘would be the one to redeem Israel’ (Luke 24:21). The following hours would witness the trial, crucifixion and death of Christ and then ultimately his burial in the second garden.
We enter the second garden a few days later. Gone is the somber mood. This garden echoes with the glad pronouncement of the angel:
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” (Matthew 28:6)
Two gardens. Two very different scenes. The first is the gateway to death, the second the entrance to life. But the truth is that without the Garden of Gethsemane there would have have been no Garden of Resurrection. The second could not have been possible without the first.
How many times in life have we dreaded our Gethsemanes? How many times have we shrank away from speaking the word, ‘Yet not as I will, but as you will’? Maybe even now, you are facing a situation that you feel will tear a part of you to pieces. Maybe the pain and agony is even now almost unthinkable.
It’s at times like this that you must turn your thoughts to the other garden, the Garden of Resurrection. No-one who drinks the cup of suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane is denied entry to the joy in the Garden of Resurrection. One garden speaks of death, the other of life; if we want to enter the garden of life, we first need to visit the garden of death. Christ showed us the way. Let us joyfully follow him.
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