Excerpted from In the Cleft of the Rock: Insights into the Blood of Jesus, Resurrection Power, and Saving the Soul by Michael J. Webb
Have you ever been to Gethsemane?
Not the physical one. Rather, I’m speaking of the spiritual one.
How do you know if you’ve been?
Gethsemane is a place of great pain. It is also a place of death. Not physical death, but the death of the soul. For the most part, few in the Body of Christ have ever been to this place of spiritual confrontation. This is one of the main reasons so few Christians live the victorious life Scripture promises is available to us.
In Matthew 26:38 Jesus says, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death . . .” And Luke tells us in his account of the same event that Christ was in such agony that He was sweating great drops of blood. I don’t know if you’ve ever really thought about what it must have been like for our Lord during his short time in the garden of Gethsemane on the eve of his crucifixion, but it seems clear from Scripture that a titanic struggle was taking place.
By all accounts in the Bible, Jesus never took three hours to accomplish any of His miracles, and yet we see Him in the garden struggling in agony for an extended period of time.
What on Earth was going on?
Most sermons preached on these passages focus on the fact that Jesus wrestled with the physical reality of the terrible necessity of the cross. While that is certainly one aspect of His tremendous travail, there is a much more fundamental principle being demonstrated here—one that goes to the very heart of the salvation experience.
In order for us to fully understand what our Lord was dealing with in the garden of Gethsemane, we must go back to the beginning. Back to another garden. The garden where humanity’s entire struggle began.
Scripture teaches that man was created in the image and likeness of God, and that because of deception and disobedience humanity became estranged from its Creator. Eve was deceived, but Adam disobeyed. Thus, two distinctly different activities occurred resulting in one cumulative consequence.
Genesis 3:1 says, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” The Hebrew word for serpent is derived from the prime root nahash, meaning divination, enchantment, omen, or sorcery. The Hebrew word translated “subtle” literally means “cunning,” and is most often used in the negative sense. Hence, we have a deviously cunning enchanter, or sorcerer, deceiving Eve.
When God asks Eve what she has done, she responds by saying that the serpent beguiled her. The Hebrew word translated “beguiled” has the sense of both seduction and deception. Perhaps the serpent’s power of deception was actually an enchantment, or a spell, which produced confusion in Eve’s mind. At the same time, the serpent appealed to that aspect which is resident in all of us—pride. It was pride that caused Lucifer’s fall from Heaven, and pride that ultimately led him to believe that he could not only become like the Most High God, but usurp His power and authority as well.
That old devil, the serpent—very possibly Lucifer in disguise—revealed himself in what he told Eve: “For God knows that in the day you eat, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) The enchanter evidently had a strong sense that this particular appeal to a desire to “be as a god” would be effective in obtaining what he wanted. Indeed, his own desire was that he would be the one worshiped as God.
Eve was deceived, but Adam disobeyed. More importantly, he listened to his wife instead of God. In Genesis 3:17 God says to Adam, “Because you have hearkened to the voice of your wife . . . cursed is the ground for your sake . . .” Adam knew better, yet he chose to honor his wife over God. For this reason he, like both Eve and the serpent, received a curse from God. Adam could have “Just Said No.” 1Corinthians 10:13 tells us that “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
Yet, Adam made a willful choice to disobey the command of God.
I would like to suggest that apart from the literal reading of what actually transpired in the Garden of Eden, something of deeper spiritual significance is occurring here.
Scripture can be studied from a variety of perspectives, including the literal, the metaphorical, the allegorical, the historical, the dispensational, and so on. One way of studying Scripture is to see various types and shadows that are alluded to. Perhaps one of the most well-known types and shadows is that of Melchisedec, who first appears in Genesis 14 and is later discussed in the Book of Hebrews. It is commonly understood that Melchisedec represents and foreshadows Christ. Indeed, Christ is directly associated with him in Hebrews 5:10.
One can also discern principles that are established by accounts of specific events. One such principle is that the elder shall serve the younger. This is found in the account of the births of Esau and Jacob in Genesis 25:23, and perhaps has its fullest expression in the account of Joseph and his brothers.
In the Genesis account of the Fall there is a principle operating, and a type and shadow revealed, which illuminates why Christ’s struggle was so intense in the garden of Gethsemane. This is not a new doctrine; rather it is a perspective which may help us understand why so many struggle with their souls even after they have been redeemed from the curse of the law of sin and death.
God is triune—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Genesis tells us that God made man in His image, that is, triune. Body, soul, and spirit. The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, concludes his writing by saying “I pray God your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Thessalonianas 5:23) Each of us, then, is a soul created by God, who lives in a body, and has a spirit.
Now, putting these parts together, let’s look at the account of the Fall from a fresh perspective, and apply what happened there to what Jesus experiences in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then to our own walk.
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