His betrayer knew it well because Jesus often took his disciples there (John 18:2).
|Photo Credit: Episcopal Florida (CC)|
What he was about to do would be by far the hardest thing he’d ever done. Fasting for forty days? Elementary. Astounding the teachers in the synagogue? Raising a man from a dead? Nothing to it.
No, this was different. He’d felt pain before, but nothing like what was about to happen.
That Jesus went to a garden in order to begin the process of atonement was no accident.
How a Bite of Fruit Led to Blood and Sweat
Eden, a paradise beyond imagination. But when I do try to picture it, it’s always bright and green and warm, with the freshest air you’ll ever smell, and the bluest pools of water.
What a contrast to Gethsemane in Matthew 26. A place shrouded by darkness. A place where Jesus sweat blood while His very own disciples slept, oblivious to His agony. (He’d told them so many times that He would suffer and die, but they just didn’t get it.) It didn’t matter anyway: they were about to deny him just like everyone else.
Of course you know the cause of this darkness, betrayal, and pain: not what happened in Gethsemane, but what happened in Eden.
This hour was the culmination of that horrible day when husband and wife decided they wanted to "be like God” (Gen. 3:5) and ate the forbidden fruit.
Now here was Jesus ready to spill his blood on account of their pride. It was why he came, but his humanness gave him pause:
My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. (Matt. 26:39)
He knew the answer before He even prayed it, but He had to ask just in case there was another way.
You see that act of disobedience in one garden, led to the greatest act of obedience in another. No one but Jesus could have drunk from this cup. It wasn’t just that he would suffer a tortuous death—all but two of the twelve disciples would die in similar fashion. But also that in the midst of that torture, he could call it off at any minute. Or, in Jesus’ own in words:
Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (Matt. 26:53)
Why Jesus Chose Himself
Jesus said something powerful earlier in His ministry. He said that a seed cannot fulfill its purpose unless it first dies (John 12:24).
The word “garden” elicits life: flora, reproduction, fruit. Kind of like Eden. Gethsemane, though, reeks of death.
Jesus knew that for us to live, something had to die.
So He chose Himself.
Only one question then remains: how will you respond?
Jesus chose himself in spite of his fear. Would you like to know my greatest fear as a Christian? I wrote an article on just such a subject, and you can get it free today. Just tell me where to send it:
Maybe you can relate to my fear.