(Part II – Gethsemane)
THE TALE OF TWO GARDENS
GETHSEMANE – with Peter
Peter, it’s so good to see you. It’s been a long time since our last visit. Perhaps youcan give me some help on a request that has come to me. I’ve been asked to give a report on what happened that fateful night in Gethsemane during Jesus last hours on earth. Who would be better to give me some details and insights. You were there. Even though it was some time ago, I’m sure you haven’t forgotten.”
“Forgotten!” responded Peter. “ No one who experienced those apprehensive filled hours could ever forget what happened there...much less me! Forget that night and day with our suffering friend, Jesus? Never! To give you more details, we need to go back to the previous evening.”
Peter could hardly wait to begin. With a deep breath, he began. “All twelve of us were there in the Upper Room around the table with Jesus, celebrating our annual Passover Feast. His words were heavy as he told us that this would be the last time we would be together. He took the bread and the cup and told us how we should remember him with it as his body and shed blood. Luke 22:14-18. It was a touching scene when he knelt and washed our feet and explained why.”
“How could anyone not believe that Jesus was really the Son of God? He had shared with us again and again regarding His relationship with His Father and His love and concern for us. Many times He told us about His death, resurrection and leaving us to go back to His Heavenly home. It was hard for us to grasp that truth. Jesus opened His heart so completely to us in those final hours of His earthly life”.
“Knowing the future better than we know today, He told us that Judas would betray him. Judas left the room soon after that. When He said I would deny Him early the next morning. I had questions about that. I loved Him with my whole being and didn’t think that denying Him would ever be part of my doing. But I did, and have wept much about it. He said we would all scatter when the enemy came for Him. We could hardly believe His words. He challenged us to be faithful to Him and promised that regardless of what happened, we could be sure that He would never leave or forsake us. He also promised that He would send another Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to give us comfort, power and guidance for the days ahead.” (Read John 13-17)
Peter was full of the details of that night and kept talking.. “It seemed that Jesus understoodthat we weren’t comprehending the fact of His leaving us. He shared again about His suffering, crucifixion, death and burial. That He would rise again from the grave after three days and eventually take us home with Him. To say that we were awake and alert, trying to absorb what he was so intently sharing with us, would be putting it mild. We were unable to grasp the burden and agony of His soul. We didn’t know, but He did, that by tomorrow at this time He would have suffered the cross and be in the grave. We sat quietly for a time, trying to take in the sacred and solemn words he was sharing with us. Then, at His suggestion, we sang a hymn and left the room. Outside, we began the little journey, across the Kidron Valley, to our favorite quiet spot in the Garden of Gethsemane.”
“You must have been exhausted by the time you arrived at the Garden.” I said. “Yes” Peter answered, “It was about midnight when we settled at our treasured spot in Gethsemane. You are right. We were all very weary after the busy day and evening of special activities of the Passover, followed by the trek over to the Garden.”
I voiced my concern, “Did you settle down for the night and get some rest?” I asked.
Peter’s eyes opened wide. “ Have you ever had a night to be remembered? Mine was this one. There was untold action the remaining hours. No rest for anyone.”
“Jesus knew the coming hours would bring great suffering and asked James, John and me to go with Him to pray. He went a little further and in agony fell to His face in communion with His heavenly Father. He questioned us when He returned and found us sleeping. Could we not watch with Him one hour? Remember, I told you it was late night and the day before was full of duties regarding the Passover. I think you would have been sleeping too.”
“We heard a group of shouting men entering our area”, continued Peter. “ Judas, knowing Jesus favorite prayer spot, was already there. When Jesus asked them who they were looking for, they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’. A strange thing then happened. When Jesus answered, ‘I am He’, they fell backward to the ground. Then Judas, who was with the noisy group, came forward and identified Jesus with a kiss. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I was distressed and grieved at the whole situation. I whipped out my sword and struck out at this hatefulness. The ear of the high priest’s servant, Malchus, fell off. Jesus reprimanded me, told me to put my sword away, picked up the ear and put it back on Malchus. The hours from then on were a continual chaos. The pressure of the moment was almost beyond words.”
“In the morning, the Chief Priests and Elders took counsel and delivered Jesus to Pilate. Because the Jewish law forbids the killing of anyone, they took Him to Pilate in the Roman court. Pilate tried Him and sent Him to Herod. Herod sent Him back to Pilate. Three separate times Jesus was taken to Pilate for judgment and each time Pilate returned with the words, ‘I find no fault in Him’. The crowd called out, ‘You are no friend of Caesar, if you free this so called king’. This frightened Pilate, and he delivered Jesus to the cry of the people to ‘Crucify Him’. Jesus was then bound, beaten, bleeding and treated like no human I had ever seen. They led Him away to Golgotha, carrying His cross. When He fell under it, another came and carried it for Him. It was a terrible sight, to say the least. I failed to understand why He had to be treated in such a manner. The people continued to cry out “Crucify Him”.
“John and I followed as close as we dared. We were almost out of our minds. What’s the score here? Hadn’t we understood, through the teaching of Jesus own words, that He was to become our coming King?. What He was going through wasn’t the picture of a soon to be king! Then we remembered. He had repeatedly told us that He was to die, be buried, but would rise again in three days. No matter what... it was almost unbearable to watch what was going on.”
It was hard for Peter to continue speaking, but words continued to fall from his lips. “When the company arrived at Golgotha’s Hill,” he said, “they nailed Him to a cross, along with two thieves, one on either side. His enemies continued to mock Him, even on the cross. They gave Him vinegar mixed with gall (a sedative) but when He tasted it, He would not drink. He bore the full pain of His sacrifice alone. In His fathomless love, He said, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do’. His matchless love is beyond our comprehension. It was precious moment when, from the cross, Jesus spoke to John about taking care of His mother.”
Peter became quiet and withdrawn. “I’ll never forget those last three hours,” he said softly, “from the 6th hour...high noon, when the sun is at its peak, until the 9th hour, God closed down the light of the sun and there was darkness over all the earth..” Matt. 27:45. Slowly Peter continued, “At the 9th hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and yielded up His life, giving it back to His Father, saying , ‘It is finished’. He had completed what He had come to earth to do! At that same hour, the veil in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. There was an earthquake and graves were opened. The Centurion (military soldier) standing near said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God’.
Later, Peter sat down with me for a cup of tea. “ I didn’t realize when you asked me to share Gethsemane with you, “ he said, “that the review of it would bring so many vivid memories and emotions, but I am more than happy to share my feelings with you. Anyone, whose life has touched the Life of Jesus, can NEVER be the same.”
“However, I failed to mention” Peter said, “one of the greatest blessings for you and me, during that last hour, was what happened to the Veil in the Temple. The exact time that Jesus gave up His life, on Calvary, the Veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom. Before this, only the High Priest was allowed to go into God’s Presence, through the Veil into the Holy of Holies, and that only once a year. Now the way was open for anyone, you and me, to go directly into God’s presence, in JESUS name, without guilt and shame of sin. The problem which began back in the Garden of Eden, (separation from God) was solved on the Cross of Calvary. Truly, Jesus finished the work for which He came,” said Peter. “This should put new meaning into the word THANKFUL for us.”
Peter took my hand and expressed his appreciation for the privilege of sharing Jesuslast days.
The privilege was mine....and yours !
There is an outstanding lesson to learn regarding the Tale of these Two Gardens.
Because of disobedience, Man was put out of the Garden of Eden. . . .
separated from God’s peaceful Presence.
Because of Jesus death on Calvary – God’s presence is again opened to us.
The Wages of sin is death - - - - Eden
The Gift of God is eternal life.. . . through Jesus Christ our Lord.---Gethsemane
FREE CHOICE was given to Adam and Eve. –Given to you and me too !!
God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
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P.S. To get the full picture from Scripture, read the last 3 chapters of Matt., Mark, Luke and the last 4 chapters of John.
Elsie K. Young
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