This Garden and All the Marbles.
Isn't it just like God to put the first couple, Adam and Eve, in a perfect paradise? Everything the two desired, and certainly everything they needed, surrounded them in the Garden, located in Eden. God himself planted this garden for them,1 [did you know that 'garden' came from the Persian word paradisum meaning paradise? God intended for human beings to live in Paradise!], where there was no corruption of any kind-no unbearable heat or humidity or drought, no gophers or blight of any sort. And how were things relationally? Well, things were never better than for the first husband and wife; no problem figuring each other out, no guilt, no shame. Adam and Eve also enjoyed a perfect relationship with God their Father. Life was as it was meant to be. Then, they erred~ the link: Genesis chapter 3:
When Adam and Eve had to leave, as they were no longer perfect, the gates of the Garden closed behind them, and already God began making a way for close relationship again. His plan included another garden--this one was set in an olive grove near the base of a small mountain just outside of Jerusalem. So, Garden in Eden at the start of all things and another garden as part of God's plan to be reunited with mankind.
Paul wrote, 'In the fullness of time', meaning 'at the most advantageous time', God gave us Jesus, his own son, so that we could become his children again.2 I remember when I was a kid thinking 'why in the world did God wait so long to send Jesus' ... but now I get it. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, under the rule of the Roman Empire; accordingly, the citizens knew relative peace (Pax Romana), a common language (Greek), and enjoyed a system of roads and highways. All of these enabled the Gospel - the Good News of Jesus - to spread, to take hold, and indeed to start a revolution of grace.
Jesus often went into that garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives - Gethsemane - to be alone and to pray. However, one night, after three-plus years of ministry, things could have ground to a screeching halt. You see, it was on that night in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus agonized with the Father about another way for mankind to be made right - other than his suffering, his crucifixion, his separation from the Father (when God had to turn away from Jesus as he became sin on the cross). On this night, it was for all the marbles.
You know, the Bible is full of symbolism that is so very rich, but much of it is not readily obvious to the reader and can only be realized by studying. For instance, Gethsemane comes from an Aramaic word meaning "olive press." Olives went through three pressings to remove every ounce of oil. The three pressings of the olives are connected to the three times Jesus asked his Heavenly Father to 'let this cup pass from me', (Matthew 26.39. 42, 44).3 Jesus allowed himself to be not just pressed for us, but crushed. He made that decision in the beautiful Garden of Gethsemane, in which he was soon betrayed by his friend, arrested and shackled. It is almost too much to bear what Jesus was willing to endure for my sin.
I've been in that Garden, prayed in and around those old olive trees, and I can picture how Jesus must have knelt, probably with twigs underneath, eyes cast upward toward the One he loved more than anything.
Will be there again in a few months - nothing like seeing it, touching the earth, looking across at the Old City of Jerusalem to realize where it all took place, and just how very high were the stakes that night in Gethsemane so long ago.
Thank you, Father, thank you, Lord Jesus, for making a way for us to have relationship with you . . . direct access, no less. Thank you that you not only love us so much, you desired for us to live in a garden paradise like the one you planted in Eden, but it was in another garden, that the die was cast - Jesus would do what he came to do, and as a result, we could be in Paradise again, but this time, forever. That is good news, for sure.
1 Genesis 2.8
2 Galatians 4.4-5
3 The Rock, the Road, and the RabbiKathie Lee Gifford, 2018.