It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only (opening to A TALE OF TWO CITIES by Charles Dickens).
There are two Gardens in the Bible, but they are “night and day” apart Gardens. There is one figure in one of the Gardens that is not present in the other, and that makes all the difference in the world, literally and figuratively.
The first Garden we are introduced to in the Bible is the Garden of Eden. We know the story, right? God’s First Man and First Woman lived there (rent-free) in complete freedom with animals and trees as far as the eye can see, that is until they got tricked and disobeyed their Father God. “The devil made me do it” was, in fact, very true in this Garden, as the devil disguised as a serpent did make them do it. They didn’t have to do it, but they did it because they were tricked. They were offered a temptation too good to pass up, i.e., they could BE God and know right from wrong, good from evil. They just didn’t know that it was evil telling them to do bad. That IS what evil does best. And they really messed this up for themselves and for all of us, as “sin came into the world through one man, and his sin brought death with it” (Romans 5:12). Some make the claim that it was Eve’s fault, as she was the one to first eat the forbidden fruit, but I care not to engage this, as what does it matter who ate the nasty fruit first? The point is it was eaten by BOTH and BOTH died as a result and, unfortunately, so will we. They lost Paradise for themselves and us. Satan was victorious in this Garden. He won and we lost…BIG TIME!
But there is another Garden that comes later in the Bible, and this is the Garden of Gethsemane. There is someone very important who is in this Garden that was not in the first one (well, not really present in the first one, though God is ALWAYS in union with Him [John 10:38]). This very important figure is Jesus Christ. Let’s look at this Garden and compare it to the previous one:
The Garden of Eden had the serpent (Satan) and the Garden of Gethsemane had men who betrayed and were determined to kill Jesus (Satan’s men). But the Garden of Eden did not have Jesus silencing Satan whereas in the Garden of Gethsemane, Satan was brought to complete silence. Satan’s men came for Jesus and yet they were silent about it; only a kiss from Jesus’ betrayer, Judas, was “heard.” Peter took a sword to kill one of these Satan men but Jesus silently gestured Peter to stop such violence (I know Jesus spoke a few words but how to the point they were!). They took Jesus away to die a horrible death and Jesus, for the most part, remained silent through this but so, too, did Satan have to remain silent. All this silence was because there was a Higher Mission being planned out in the Garden of Gethsemane. There was Jesus in this Garden, bent over, sweating droplets of blood, knowing The Cup He had to drink from and, in a hushed tone akin to a silent plea, “if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will but as You will, Father” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus’ Disciples were silent at this time (in fact, they went to sleep) but so was Satan. Satan could not obtain ANY victory in this Garden with a prayer like this from Jesus. Satan did not want Jesus to do His Father’s Will but rather wanted Jesus to fight and destroy everyone, same as Satan would do. And Jesus did have the Power through His Father to do just that. But Jesus was all about the silence of His Father’s Business (“don’t you realize that I must be about My Father’s business?” [Luke 2:49]). Jesus was all about silently drinking from This Cup, because He knew His Father would get The Victory and The Glory, and Satan would be silenced once and for all.
This is a Tale of Two Gardens, but I invite you to return only to the Garden of Gethsemane with me. Forget the Garden of Eve. That is finished. The harm and foul that took place there has been done and there is really no getting back that Garden. In the End, we will have that Garden back but for now in the Garden of Gethsemane, there is definitely something to get back. There is Jesus. There is this Garden when you suffer (and you will) that you can return to very quietly where you are bent over with Jesus, where you are sweating droplets of blood with Jesus, and where you are in Union with Jesus, asking that your cup be taken from you but not your will but rather your Father’s Will, same as Jesus prayed. It’s true some won’t ever venture into this Garden to be with Jesus, but I go there every day because I suffer every day. I need to know there is a Garden I can go to where someone understands my suffering, where someone has experienced as much fear as I experience and am currently experiencing, where someone knows dread and despair as these are my common states, and where someone knows that it is NOT our will be done but “Your Kingdom come; Your Will be done” (Matthew 6:10).
It is the tale of two Gardens but let us only return now alone to the Garden of Gethsemane because that is where Jesus is praying AND waiting for us.