Remember Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion? Powerful film. When that movie came out three or four years ago, a lot of the debate centered around the question of just how faithful it was to the Gospels. True, there was a lot of artistic license flexed by the movie makers. But I feel that most, if not all, of it was theologically sound.
Remember the garden scene? In that movie, Jesus was not praying alone under the olive trees at Gethsemane. Not totally. The snake was there. The serpent of old, the devil, was slithering around the garden while Jesus was asking God to take away the cup of suffering and the task of the cross. And the mood isn’t so somber and tragic when you see the snake. Suddenly the scene is injected with vigor and power as we realize the cosmic battle that’s taking place in this olive grove. And the scene climaxes with Jesus simultaneously saying, “Not my will, but yours be done,” and standing up and crushing the head of the serpent with his foot.
What was really happening in the garden? The night Jesus was betrayed and the whole plan was beginning to unfold, what was really going on?
Crushing the head of the snake is a clear reference back to Genesis 3:15, a verse the Church has held forever as a messianic prophesy of God’s ultimate defeat of Satan.
But it takes us back to that very first garden, the Garden of Eden. In that first garden the first Adam, the first man, fails his God. Not only is he not talking to his Father, he’s ultimately listening to the devil. Adam, rejecting the will of God, looks upon the tree and disobeys. As a result, God removes man from the garden. And even though he lives a very long time, Adam ultimately dies because sin and death have now entered the world.
Now at Gethsemane we see the second Adam, the last Adam, Jesus. He, too, is in a garden. He’s in a garden and contemplating a tree: the tree of crucifixion right before him. And Satan was there, too. He was there at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, don’t you think he was there at the end? I can hear him.
“Save yourself! You don’t have to do this! You’re the Son of God! Call down your angels! Make yourself King!”
He’d said it all before.
But unlike the first Adam, this second Adam is listening to his Father, not the devil. He obeys the will of his God who tells him he must partake of the tree. And as a result, Jesus is removed from the garden; not by God, but by man. Jesus dies within 24 hours. But ultimately his life returns anew because salvation and reconciliation and everlasting life have now entered the world.
Through his decision he agonizingly confirms again in the garden, Jesus forever becomes our path back to our Father’s garden, the one we were removed from so long ago. Praise God for the Savior’s love. And for his obedience to our God’s will.
He proudly wears his Marion Barber jersey to church functions. His sweet daughter is an answer to my family’s prayers. He’s an open and honest man with a unique perspective. My conversations with him, in person and via email, about our God and his church or football, always stretch me and give me appreciated insight. And now Mel Williams has joined the blogging community. Check out Mel’s brand new blog, Simple Man Walking, by clicking here.