Thursday, September 8, 2016
from Life Sentences by Warren Wiersbe:
" The Bible opens with the garden of Eden and closes with the garden city of Heaven. It goes from sin and death to holiness and life. What caused the change?"
"Between these two gardens is the Garden of Gethsemane where the Son of God prayed, 'Not my will but yours be done.' (Luke 22:42) and went forth courageously to die on a cross. Because Jesus died and rose again, the curse caused in the first garden has been overcome. The last book in the English Old Testament ends with the word curse (Mal. 4:6), but in the last book of the New Testament we read, 'No longer will there be any curse.' (Rev 22:3) The gift of eternal life is available to all who put their trust in Jesus. The Bible records this remarkable story so you and I may read it, believe it, and experience all that God has for us."
I think of several things as I reread these words written by Warren Wiersbe. First of all, the gardens--Eden, Gethsemane, and Heaven. Is there anywhere more peaceful, inviting and pleasant than a beautiful garden--a place to refresh a weary soul, a place to meditate, a place to rejoice in the beauty of Creation? I had never thought of the Bible story beginning and ending with a garden setting.
Something else Mr. Wiersbe pointed out: the climax of the Biblical story for mankind occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane. I understand the importance of Jesus staying true to the wishes of His Father at that point; but, in the literary analysis, I had never put my finger on that particular situation as being the climax of mankind's struggle for reconciliation with God. The moments Jesus spent in Gethsemane represented the point of no return for Him and for us. After Jesus submitted to God's will in that garden, there was no turning back for Him, no using His supernatural powers to stop the madness, cruelty, and pain being unleashed around Him and upon Him.
In Gethsemane, Jesus chose to suffer the pain and shame associated with the cross in order t o accomplish the task for which He been born the Son of Man. He chose to fulfill the purpose for which His Father had sent him into a sinful world.
The climax of a story is the highest point of suspense, the point at which the conclusion of the story must necessarily come. Before He could leave the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had been betrayed by Judas and arrested by the authorities and others who despised him. It is through Christ's resurrection that we mortals, humankind, share in the victory over death and are able to look forward to eternal life with God in His heavenly home. Jesus had to die, descend into hell, and conquer death and demons in order to obtain our salvation. But, for a moment, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, seems to vacillate. In Matthew 26, verses 39, 42, and 44, we see that three times Jesus asked that, if possible, He be spared the awful crucifixion. Each time, however, He also asked that His Father's will, not His, be done. Here is Jesus at a fork in the road: He can avoid the cross, thereby condemning mankind to eternal damnation, or He can endure the agony of the cross and insure mankind eternal life in Heaven if he will only believe in the Resurrection. Jesus chose to sacrifice Himself in order to fulfill God's wishes and save mankind from the eternal darkness of death.
The Bible is a story of God's love for his people, His faithfulness to us, and His willingness to sacrifice for us. The verse, "Greater love has no man than he who lays down His life for another." This verse illustrates God's love for us. God became incarnate and died for us. This sacrifice is especially awesome because God sacrificed His only begotten Son. While I myself might be willing to die for someone or a cause I feel strongly about, I would not willingly sacrifice one of my daughters or grandchildren for anyone.
Men throughout the world and time have wanted a son to carry on the family name. The idea of sacrificing the only son, would not be acceptable to most of us.
I hate the idea of one of my grandsons ever having to go to war or to meet cruel, hateful people who will despise and scorn them because of their skin color, their birthplace, their Christian beliefs. If I were able, I would wrap them in cotton and keep them safe. I do, however, know that God has a plan for each of my grandsons; I know God loves them and will them if they will just listen and follow God's voice.
Yes, sacrificing one' s son for the redemption of others is showing inconceivable love. How awesome and great is God's love for us all! It is by His grace that we are saved from death and look forward to eternal life with all the saints. We look forward to walking with Jesus one day in a heavenly garden from which all curses have been removed.