Written by Matt Benton, Pastor of Bethel United Methodist Church in Woodbridge, VA.
Two stories and their settings are the same. A man stands in a garden, before God, and is afraid.
Two stories whose settings are the same, but couldn’t be more different.
Adam stands in the Garden of Eden. He has just eaten the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He’s naked. He’s ashamed. And he hears God walking through the garden. God is seeking him out, ready for their evening stroll.
But Adam has disobeyed. He has done what God specifically told him not to do. HE HAD ONE JOB! He knows that the second God sees him, God will know. Know what he’s done. Know that he’s disobeyed. Know that he’s failed.
So he hides.
He’s afraid. He’s afraid of what God will do to him. What will happen when the truth of his actions is brought to light. He’s afraid that he cannot stand before God, he’s afraid of what will happen when he stands before God.
Jesus stands in the Garden of Gethsemane. He’s praying. He’s praying so hard he’s sweating blood. He’s afraid. But unlike Adam, he’s not afraid of God. He’s not afraid because of his disobedience. He’s not worried about what God will do to him. He’s afraid of what we will do to him.
“Father, let this cup pass from me!” he prays. He is not worried about the price of his disobedience. He is worried about the cost of his obedience. What it will mean for him to be obedient to God’s will. “Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Adam couldn’t help but be disobedient; Jesus cannot help but be obedient.
Adam fears that the price of his disobedience deserves death. Jesus is afraid because the cost of his obedience is death.
Adam fears that, because of his disobedience, his relationship with God will be severed. Jesus fears that his obedience will, for a time, sever the link between the Father and the Son.
Adam leaves the garden walking on his own. Jesus leaves the garden committed to walking fully with God, even if that means walking to His death.
How much of our lives do we spend with Adam in the garden, fearing the results of our own disobedience? Afraid that God will discover exactly who we are and what we have done? How often do we fear standing before God knowing that we have not been faithful? How often do we try so hard to hide from God, lest God feel about us the way we feel about ourselves?
What if, instead, we prayed in the garden with Jesus? We prayed for Jesus to have the strength to be obedient where we have been disobedient? To watch the conviction in Jesus’ eyes, the love in Jesus’ eyes. What if instead of focusing our thoughts on our own disobedience we focused instead on Jesus’ obedience?
Tomorrow, Jesus will go to the cross out of obedience to God. Out of love for you and for me. On Sunday Jesus will defeat death, defeat sin, defeat those things that we fear alienate us from God.
Today, leave behind Adam’s garden and its fear of alienation. Leave behind the fear of what God will do to you should your obedience be discovered. Leave behind the shame. Join Jesus in Gethsemane. See what God will do in order to show God’s love. See what God will do to win your salvation. Stop looking at all the things you and Adam haven’t done. Look instead at what God does.