Garden & Resurrection

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 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. 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.


Seven Observations for Maundy Thursday

1.) Christ’s “mandate” is commemorated on Maundy Thursday—“maundy” being a shortened form of mandatum (Latin), which means “command.” It was on the Thursday of Christ’s final week before being crucified and resurrected that He said these words to his disciples:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).

The modern Church has fallen down here because they have cut the word “love” loose from its Biblical moorings. If God’s people are to love one another then that love must have content and the only place it can find definitional content is God’s law. The only way I can know if I am loving someone is if I act in concert with what God’s law requires of me in relation to others. Apart from that reality, we can only blaspheme Christ in our Maundy Thursday celebrations.

Even Christ’s love to us was of a nature that was defined by God’s law. God’s law required blood atonement. If Christ was to love His people as consistent with God’s law then He must offer Himself up for an atonement for their sin. Christ demonstrated His love for His people in a way that was defined by God’s law.

2.) 1When he had said this, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered.

On Maundy Thursday Christ overcame temptation in the garden. It was in a garden where the 1st Adam succumbed to the temptation to not be submissive to the Father’s will by taking of the fruit of the forbidden tree of life. In the Gethsemane garden, the last Adam overcomes the temptation to not be submissive to the Father’s will and yields to the Father’s will to mount the tree of death to be the fruit of life to the world.

The Scripture takes us from Garden to Garden. From the Garden of the Fall to the Garden of Gethsemane, to the Garden on that resurrection morning. The fate of man is ruined, restored, and resurrected in a garden.

3.) Only Dr. Luke records the sweating of Christ

“His sweat became like great drops of blood.”

Which Luke describes as agony. The Greek word for agony also is used for “fight” elsewhere. Medically this blood sweat is called “Hematidrosis” and is a rare medical condition. Those suffering from this condition find their capillary blood vessels which feed the sweat glands rupture thereby causing blood to exude from the pores. Such a condition is known to sometimes occur to those who are undergoing unusually significant psychological, emotional or physical stress.

Even here, we are reminded of Christ’s humanity. It is true that Jesus is very God of very God but Luke takes the time to remind us of his very real humanity on the cusp of the cross.

Some scholars believe that when Christ prays, “let this cup pass,” that the cup Jesus is asking to pass is a death that would come from the severe hematidrosis. Remember, Luke tells us that Jesus sweat became like great drops of blood.  Matthew mentions that Jesus was sorrowful even unto the point of death. These scholars suggest that Jesus is praying that He will not die before He goes to the cross.

The blood here is perhaps a prefiguring of the importance of the blood shed by Christ on the Cross for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. The blood in the garden. The blood from the scourging. The blood from the thorn crown pressed upon His brow. The blood from the nails in His feet and hands. The blood from the spear thrust in His side. Our Lord Christ goes from sweating blood to the oozing of blood. Our forgiveness is won from blood unto blood. Well, we can understand why Paul states that the church, (was) purchased with his own blood.

And why Peter can add that

it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot.

4.)  37 When he returned he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?

In Matthew and Mark’s Gethsemane account Jesus returns three times to find His three most intimate disciples asleep. Three times Peter denies Christ. Three times Jesus tells Peter to “feed my sheep.”

Were it not for Luke’s account, where an angel is sent to strengthen Christ in His praying we would conclude that the Gospel accounts are emphasizing Jesus aloneness and abandonment. This is a truth that is certainly emphasized later in the accounts of the Cross. Here in Gethsemane, we find our Lord bloodied, stressed, and exhausted and even His little inner circle cannot support him during this time. Perhaps this reminds us that God’s grace is sufficient even in those times when except for the presence of God we really are alone.

5.) 36 he said, “Abba, Father,* all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.

Mark finds our Lord addressing the Father as “Abba,” and is used only in the Gospels in this text. Interestingly enough, the word in the Jewish tradition had never been used to address God. The word is never used in the Gospel except for this one place. At the very moment when Jesus is headed to the Cross, at the moment the tender filial trust between Father and Son is expressed. “Abba” is a word that communicates warm affection and filial devotion.

We find here the harmony of purpose among the members of the Trinity.  In the covenant of Redemption, the members of the Trinity entered into covenant from eternity past for the redemption of fallen mankind. The Father sent the Son to be a sin offering. The Son agrees to go the way of a sin offering. The prize given and won is a people of His own choosing.

6.) Betrayed by a Kiss

His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.” 49 Immediately he went over to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed him.

In the near Eastern culture of the 1st century, a kiss was the traditional way to greet one another. That which was to be a sign of intimate friendship was the signal to betray one’s long-held “Rabbi.” It seems only appropriate that hell would betray heaven with a kiss.

7.) Whom are you looking for?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.” He said to them, “I AM.” Judas his betrayer was also with them. 6 When he said to them, “I AM,” they turned away and fell to the ground.7So he again asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.

John’s Gospel contains the great seven “I am” sayings of Jesus. It is a theme that John plays on. In chapter 8 of John Jesus says of himself, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Naturally enough, this claim of “I am” that runs through John in connection with Jesus is a claim of divinity since in the Old Testament God defines Himself as “I am that I am.”

Here the claim of “I am,” is a claim of dread and fear. They who have come to arrest God fall before His feet at the sound of His name. It is as if before the drama can be played out all the players have to realize their place.  The idea that man will arrest and arraign God is surreal to consider and yet in Jesus self-identifying as “I Am” that is exactly what we have.

Is It Acceptable To Delight In The Downfall of the Wicked?

Schadenfreude — pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.

Actually, schadenfreude is a perfectly normal emotion and is
a dangerous emotion only when injustice is celebrated, not when justice is served. As Christians, we should experience schadenfreude when the wicked fall.

The Scriptures drip with biblical schadenfreude.

See …

Israel’s songs in Pharaoh’s defeat (Exodus 15)

Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency, thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.

Woman Wisdom’s sermon at the city gate (Proverbs 1:20-33)

24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;

Elijah’s raking of the Prophets of Baal

26 And they (the false prophets) took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 2And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked

This schadenfreude in Scripture reveals again that as the Church in the West finds practicing this kind of schadenfreude to be unacceptable, it is following the PC codes, and is attempting to be nicer than God.  Indeed, we might go so far as to say that where Christians to not experience schadenfreude where the wicked are caught in their own trap and so destroyed, there we find an example of sub-biblical Christianity.  Indeed a lack of biblical schadenfreude could be a case  where “Even the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

John Portmann, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, set forth his own schadenfreude theory three years ago in his book, ‘When Bad Things Happen to Other People.’ Portman offers that we all consider justice a virtue and feel pleasure when we see lawbreakers brought low.

In response to Professor Portmann, we might say that it’s all to the good that Christians experience biblical schadenfreude because this pleasure reflects our reverence for God’s law and God’s justice. If Portmann is correct there is such a possibility as Biblical schadenfreude and to experience Biblical schadenfreude would be a corollary of justice rendered to the guilty and so God’s law being upheld.

It is schadenfreude that the saints will experience in the judgment of the wicked when the wicked are brought low.

18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!  19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. 20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

Certainly, schadenfreude, over the ruination of the wicked has been held by the Church Fathers throughout history;

Peter Lombard, the Master of Sentences

“Therefore the elect shall go forth…to see the torments of the impious, seeing which they will not be grieved, but will be satiated with joy at the sight of the unutterable calamity of the impious .” Sent. Iv 50, ad fin

Martin Luther

When questioned whether the Blessed will not be saddened by seeing their nearest and dearest tortured answers, “Not in the least.”


“…the Blessed will see their friends and relations among the damned as often as they like but without the least of compassion.”


“They who shall enter into [the] joy [of the Lord] shall know what is going on outside in the outer darkness. . .The saints’. . . knowledge, which shall be great, shall keep them acquainted. . .with the eternal sufferings of the lost.” [The City of God, Book 20, Chapter 22, “What is Meant by the Good Going Out to See the Punishment of the Wicked” & Book 22, Chapter 30, “Of the Eternal Felicity of the City of God, and of the Perpetual Sabbath”]



1st John’s Indicators Concerning The Holy Spirit

In his first Epistle St. John gives three indicators that we have the Spirit and so abide in Him and He in us. The first is that we keep the commandments of Jesus. The second is that we confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. The third is that we “love one another.”

Notice there is nothing there about the charismatic gifts.  Notice there is nothing there about the subjective inward look for the Spirit’s footprints that so many Pietists love. Really, the inward look, to one who is sensitive to God’s absolute standard of perfection is a recipe for despair. “I know that in me no good thing dwells.”

Note also how the Westminster Confession corresponds so well with St. John when it talks about the necessity of deed, word, and thought; or if you prefer, action, belief, attitude.

Keep in mind here that love (in the necessity to “Love one another”) can only be identified and defined by God’s law. The appeal here isn’t to a warm fuzzy feeling. The appeal here is to love as a verb… love shows action and the action it shows is treating our neighbors consistent with God’s revelation of Himself in his law.

Mary’s Magnificat and the Liberation Theology Narrative

he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.

Luke 1:52f

The position of Mary (or Zechariah, or Simeon, or Anna, etc.) is not important because they were low on the social ladder but because they were saints of God despite their poverty and oppression. Poverty as poverty doesn’t score you any points in the Kingdom of God if one doesn’t belong to Christ and the people of God. The antithesis of the Scripture is not between rich vs. poor but between the Seed of the Serpent vs. The seed of the woman. This is underscored also in Dr. Luke’s parabolic account of the rich man (Dives) and Lazarus. Lazarus is not in Hades because he was rich and Lazarus is not in Abraham’s bosom because he was poor. Dives is an occupant of Hades because he would not listen to Moses and the prophets regarding the Messiah while Dives did listen. God does not hate the rich because they are rich and He does not love the poor because they are poor.

The emphasis in Mary’s Song is that God remembers His people who are being oppressed by the wicked mighty. The whole thrust of Luke’s songs is to demonstrate that God has not forgotten His people despite the fact it might look that way and despite the fact that they are being oppressed by wealthy wickedness in high places (Herod, Augustus Caesar etc.). The fact that the Lord Christ is born among the lowly does not prove that lowliness as lowliness is a virtue. After all, Jesus was born of the line of great King David and God includes the High Born in the nativity story by including visitation from the Kings of the East. In Scripture, God esteems those in Covenant, rich or poor, and destroys those outside of covenant, rich or poor.

The point in Luke’s Songs is not that God favors poor wicked people over righteous rich people. The point is that God has remembered Israel and He has remembered Israel despite her captivity and the low status she has sunken into. This is Redemptive History and what is being accentuated is God remembering His promise to raise up a Messiah. The character of God is what is being put on display, not the status of those whom He is remembering. What is not being accentuated is that God is social class conscious. Believe me, if the nativity story were written today, given how much the Wealthy are hated by our current Cultural Marxist clergy, God would have His Messiah born among the rich and royal to add the factor of “isn’t God amazing that He brought His Messiah among such ignoble filthy rich people.” However, what we don’t see in the nativity narrative of the cultural Marxist clergy is the amazing God who keeps His promises no matter what. No, what we see are the amazing poor people who, “naturally enough” are lifted up. Given their noble poverty they deserve it after all.

Does God bring down all the “Mighty” from their thrones? Did God bring down Job? Abraham? David? Are Zaccheus or Joseph of Arimathea to be counted as inferior saints in the New and Better covenant because they were wealthy? Is the New and Better covenant characterized now by God hating all wealthy people and loving all poor people regardless of their faith or lack of faith in Christ? Has the lack of wealth now become the new standard of inherent righteousness? Is God now for the proletariat and against the Bourgeois? Did God inspire Das Kapital?

This preoccupation of the Church in the West with Marxist categories completely flummoxes me. God loves the righteous in Christ regardless of their socio-economic status and he hates the wicked outside of Christ regardless of their socio-economic status… even if they are as poor and wretched as Dicken’s Fagin.

Why is it that we seem to think that God loves the impoverished more than the wealthy simply on the basis of their impoverishment? God loves His people in Christ. It is a certainty that the wealthy saints have a charge to keep in terms of their brethren of low estate but those of low estate are not superior to those of wealth if they are both looking to Christ and resting in him, just as the wealthy are not superior to those of poverty in terms of status before God just because they are wealthy.

God hates the unrighteous wealthy wicked because they do tend to oppress the poor but he equally hates the unrighteous impoverished wicked because they do tend to envy the rich. It strikes me that we have made the envious unrighteous wicked poor some kind of gold standard to aspire to. This is not what Scripture teaches and it is all very strange.

This then is the verdict – the light has come into the world, but men have hated the light because their deeds were evil. If you walk in the light as he is in the light, then they will hate you too, regardless of your socio-economic status. Oppression is due to the gospel and very often the estimable poor are poor due to their righteousness eliciting persecution and not because the in Christ wealthy are keeping them down.