Entering Gethsemane: The Door Back to Eden
There was nothing wrong with Eve’s desire for wisdom. She had a life to lead and a paradisal garden to till with a man she barely knew. Yet somehow he loved her as though she had been part of him all his life. None of that puts folly in high demand, but there always seems to be an abundance of it just within reach. Imagine trying to figure out how to love and how to work and how to eat well for the first time, so to speak. Well, don’t imagine too much. After all, the story of Adam and Eve is about you and me and anybody who goes through life for the first and only time. It is a story about going through anything we go through for the first time.
The desire for wisdom is as human as humans get. Without wisdom I lack rhythm and my other desires and demands and relationships overwhelm me. So how do I get wisdom? And where do I go to get her? These are the questions Adam and Eve didn’t get a chance to ask God. These are the questions Jesus asked on our behalf in the Garden of Gethsemane.
When children first experience hunger, they express to their mother and father a desire for food and their parents satisfy them. But the Serpent knew that waiting for Adam and Eve to appropriately awaken to each of their desires would not turn out well for him. They would go immediately to God the Divine Parent for all their needs and develop patterns and habits of turning to God whenever they experienced lack of some kind. And pretty soon humanity would have dominion over the Serpent’s rebellion against their dominion over him.
So the Serpent revealed to Adam and Eve how much they wanted wisdom before they knew they did. That’s how the Serpent stole their trust in God for himself. And that’s how he got Adam and Eve to seize wisdom for themselves from the wrong place. The Serpent misdirected a good and holy desire by offering instant gratification via something that didn’t even belong to him.
Entering the Garden of Gethsemane is also a first (Matthew 26:36–46). It’s a first for Jesus, for His Father, and for anybody He brings with Him then and now. It’s like Eden except without the forbidden fruit. Standing right before us is Jesus who is Wisdom, the Tree of Life fully incarnate. There are no other trees. We either receive Him or fall asleep and receive Him later. All the toughest questions we’ve had since we had choices are placed in Jesus’ hands and He does for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. Should I run and leave the garden? Should I do my own will? Or should I remain true to the life God has given me so far no matter what happens?
Just as God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from a tree, Jesus commanded Peter and James and John to remain with Him and stay awake. What would have happened if they hadn’t fallen asleep, if their desire to receive Wisdom had remained strong? Maybe they could have found a way to get Jesus out of there the way Frederick the Wise of Saxony kidnapped Martin Luther. Maybe they could have got to Judas before Judas got to Jesus or led the guards away from Jesus somehow. Or maybe they too could have received strength from an angel and done God knows what.
Only our desire for wisdom had become so disordered and misdirected over the years that we ended up crucifying the very thing we wanted all along. And anyone who’s been to the Cross knows that killing Him is not what we truly desire or Peter never would have wept. By sending Wisdom into the world, God made a way back to Eden for us and restored the parent-child bond with us through Christ and the gift of repentance He can give.
If the door back to Eden didn’t get slammed in God’s face, the Serpent would have lost his control over us. So he oppressed us into doing the only solution death has to life if people of life are willing to do it: more death.
However, raising Jesus from the dead was God’s way of walking right through the door the Serpent slammed in His face. In the resurrection, God said to the Serpent,”You may have killed the Son I sent to my vineyard, but you cannot kill the Spirit who lives inside my Son whose blood is the seed of my new creation, my new vineyard, which has come. Behold, the vineyard you seized through gates that belong to me is turning to sand in your hands.”
By this failure of death to bring an end to life, it brought an end to its only power over us because Jesus took the power of sin upon Himself. By failing to chop down the Tree of Life transplanted into the world in Christ for those who repent of eating the forbidden fruit, our wounds were healed. And by attempting to kill in time the Son who was before all time in Jesus, the Serpent was lured into bringing eternal life under the reign of temporal death the way the fish in The Old Man and the Sea pulled his boat and put him through hell for three days only to tire enough on the third day for Jesus to kill him with the harpoon.