I.) Eden Ruined
The Scripture opens up in a Garden scene. We all know it. The garden of Eden. Man was placed here as God’s stewards to bring dominion to the garden by tending and keeping the garden. The garden was where God and man had fellowship. God would walk with man in the garden in the cool of the evening. The beauty of the garden matched the innocence of man.
Some scholars offer that Eden was a kind of base of operations from which Adam and Eve, operating as faithful to God, would push out the boundaries of the Eden garden so as to cover the whole earth. In other words, their mission was to turn the whole earth into the same garden that Eden was. Ths would be consistent with their calling to have dominion,
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…”
However, as we know Adam, the Federal head of all humanity… the one who acted as the legal representative of all mankind turned from God’s face and so we learn from Genesis that Adam was tempted and in essence said, “Not thy will, but my will be done.” And with Adam’s fall, all mankind fell in and with him. In the choice to do his own will rather than God’s Adam was constituted a sinner and died spiritually and began to die physically.
In Romans 5, Scripture teaches that because of Adam’ sin we all die.
“just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—”
Adam’s sin in the Garden was imputed to us … put to our account.
“Through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men,”
And so man’s fellowship, intimacy, and peace with God were fractured there in the Garden of Eden. In the Garden of Eden, our Covenantal Representative said, “not thy will, but my will be done.”
But God had determined there would be other Gardens and another Adam, the last Adam … and further redemptive drama to be played out in Garden settings.
Jesus Christ is that last Adam… the representative covenantal head of a new humanity placed in a new creation; the Kingdom of God. As the last Adam, come to save His people, a garden setting once again takes center stage in their restoration. The last Adam comes to another garden called Gethsemane, which in Hebrew means “oil press.”
In this Garden, Jesus begins the active penalty stage of undoing what Adam had done in the garden of Eden. Here Christ is pressed down and squeezed.
Ill. — Description of 1st century Olive Press
With the Garden of Gethsemane, we could easily argue that we have,
II.) Eden Revisited
Each gospel writer records the pressure in Gethsemane, and Jesus himself referred to this great trauma when he spoke of his impending death in John 12:27: “Now my heart is troubled. What shall I say: ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.”
44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.
Why was Jesus distressed? We must understand that the death of Jesus Christ was unique. He may have been distressed at the horror of the content of the cup of God’s wrath which was extended for him or he may have begun to realize that for the first time that he would be separated from the Father.
Consider that in 2 Corinthians 5:21 St. Paul wrote, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,” and in Galatians 3:13 he wrote, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”
Here in this Gethsemane garden, the God-Man, the last Adam, is facing what the first Adam faced in the garden of Eden. Would he embrace the Father’s fellowship or would he turn from the Father, like Adam, and embrace His own will? Adam in the garden disobeyed God by eating of the tree. The last Adam, now in the garden is asked to mount the tree of death to pay the penalty for Adam’s sin. Here in the Gethsemane garden, the Eden is being replayed. Would the last Adam, who was always about the Father’s will, and who claimed that He only did what the Father does, now bow to the will of the Father and so become accounted as a curse in order to be imputed with the sin, misery, and guilt of all of Adam’s sin for all of God’s people?
In John 8:29 Jesus said, “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” In the Garden of Gethsemane, He now must choose to be alone, desolate, forsaken, and abandoned by all. He must choose to bear God’s curse. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He knows He is to be forsaken especially of his Father, whose fellowship he cherished as the Son of God.
In the Gethsemane garden, Jesus considers the cup of God’s wrath and in His praying we see, and I say this with all the reverence I can muster … a Holy stutter.
All of this teaches the severity of what Adam did in the garden of Eden. We learn that story from the tenderest of ages and it becomes something of a familiar tale that we grow comfortable with. But the Garden of Gethsemane reminds us that the Garden of Eden was the greatest disaster in World History because Adam’s failure in the Garden of Eden required Christ’s agony … Christ’s sweating as great drops of blood… Christ’s heart being troubled, in order to reverse the curse. Because of the failure in Eden, He who knew no sin, became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
And the active penalty phase of all that began as where the initial failure began. In a garden.
But we are not yet finished with Redemptive history and Gardens for in a few short days we have,
III.) Eden Re-established
We are not finished with the Garden motif yet though.
40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
A little later we learn from John’s Gospel (Ch. 20) that Mary mistook Jesus for the Gardener. Jesus speaks to Mary
“Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Garden and Gardeners. This time in the context of the Resurrection. Man fell in the context of a Garden. Man’s temptation was re-visited in the Garden of Gethsemane, and now Eden is re-established with the resurrection of Christ happening in a Garden.
Theologians labor to demonstrate that with the Resurrection Christ brought in the new creation. The Old Testament supports this line of thought as it anticipated that the Messiah would,
comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and sound of a melody. (Is. 51:3)
The wilderness and the desert will be glad, And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom; Like the crocus (Is. 35:1)
The idea here is that Christ is indeed the Gardener who brings with His resurrection the new Creation…. the garden of God. All those who are found in Christ are themselves then part of that new garden creation,
I Cor. 5:17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!
Christ resurrects in a garden setting. He has brought in the new creation which is described as a garden in the OT and He brings that in because He is the new creation… Christ is the garden of God. In Him, we have been translated from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of God’s dear son.
We now share in His resurrection life. We are reconciled. We are redeemed. We are justified. We are regenerated. We have peace with God. We are more than conquerors. We are God’s dominion men who walk in terms of God’s law-word. We work again to make everything we touch… our families, our careers, our churches, our relationships, into gardens of God in order to beautify the glory of God which can never be increased in beauty.
With the work of Christ men who trust in Christ are once again put in the garden that they were removed from in the fall and forbidden from in the shadow covenant.
The Garden of Eden and the Garden of Gethsemane had been Gardens of defeat and despair but now with the resurrection of Christ, the garden takes on a new meaning. The garden is the place of life, it is the place where there is abundance, the place where there is hope. The place that is characteristic of the new creation.
And this is emphasized with our final glimpse this morning of the Garden motif in the context of Redemptive history.
IV.) Eden Restored
Rev. 22:22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.
Some of your Bibles even subhead this section as “Eden Restored.”
While the book of Revelation can speak of the new heavens and new earth as a city there is also talk in Revelation of the Garden of God. Here in Revelation 22 the description sounds very garden-like. In Rev. 2:7 it is even more explicit
Rev. 2:7 — To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.’
Paradise “Παράδεισος [Paradeisos] was originally a Persian word, denoting an enclosed garden, especially a royal park.
So, the new heavens and the new earth can be rightly described as a garden. And it is there that we will live the resurrection with the resurrected one. In that Garden, the nations will be healed, the curse will be obliterated, life will pulsate as the river flows, the curse we struggle with so mightly here will be gone and the presence of God will be our delight. We will still do the bidding of God. We will still be builders of Godly culture and social order, for in the aggregate that is what we were created to be. We will still keep and tend the Garden and this time without failure. Our resurrection will know no end.
And keeping garden will be our project.