Two Gardens, Two Adams, and the Forgiveness of Your Sins

All of your personal sins, the sin of Adam and the condemnation that you and I deserve, Jesus carried on his shoulders, being led away as a sheep to the slaughter (see Isa. 53) as he releases you, dear believer, forever, forgiving your sins and securing a place for you in glory. As we celebrate the passion and suffering of Jesus, leading to his glorious resurrection, meditate on the glorious truth of Jesus in your place.

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous (Rom. 5:19).

One of the more important contrasts in the Bible is between the first Adam in the original garden of Eden, and the last Adam, Jesus Christ, who came as God’s gift to to the world to save people from their sins. This great contrast helps us to understand that what Adam lost, Christ has regained—and more. The most vivid of these contrasts in shown to us in the arrest of Jesus in John’s gospel as Jesus purposefully steps into our place of judgment.

Two Gardens

The Bible presents Jesus Christ as the last Adam and promised savior of his people to come and regain, in our place, perfectly, what the first Adam lost. This being so, we shouldn’t be surprised that a garden scene is described in the Bible before the penalty of death is executed by the last Adam.

In John 18:1-11, a great contrast is drawn between the two garden scenes of the first and last Adam. John begins by telling us that Jesus went out over the Brook Kidron where there was a garden which he and his disciples entered. That John doesn’t mention Gethsemane is a purposeful omission to let the single word “garden” captivate the reader. What kind of garden was this?

The first man Adam lost everything in the original garden.

When we think of a garden, we think of a beautiful place of plants, shady trees, and that which is pleasant. John’s mention of Kidron, however, should not go unnoticed. Throughout the Old Testament Kidron was known, particularly by the designation of Jeremiah, as a place of dead bodies and ashes. Jeremiah 31:40 states,

“The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord.”

The valley of dead bones, death and ashes was a place consecrated by the Lord for precisely what John 18 describes.

The first man Adam lost everything in the original garden. The garden was a place of beauty and peace. In was in this garden, however, that the crown of God’s creation, made in his image ,was seduced away into rebellion and ruin. God said to Adam,

“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:17)

That’s exactly what happened: the garden became a place of exile and death.

The first Adam hid from God’s judgment.

To keep with the contrast in John, the reader should be reminded that the original garden scene came with a day of reckoning. Genesis 3:8 describes God coming into the garden in the “cool of the day.” This has been one of the most misunderstood verses in all of the Bible. God was not taking a casual stroll to enjoy the breeze, only to discover the half-eaten piece of fruit in the hand of Adam. Genesis 3:8 describes the final Day of Judgment in the original garden. Adam heard the sound of God’s glory coming forth in the “spirit” (ruach) of [judgment] day. What did Adam do? He ran as fast as he could the other way and hid.

Fast forward to John 18, and we have the same scene. John presents the last Adam as crossing over the valley in the shadow of death for us, into the place of dead bodies and ashes. Jesus is standing in our place to pick up the pieces where the first Adam once fell. The whole thing is meant to recall the first garden scene, provoking the question: What would have happened had God unleashed the fury of his wrath in full in the original garden and not planned a covenant of grace?

The sad story of the human race would end in eternal judgment apart from God’s grace.

The original garden scene in Genesis ended with mercy; God shed blood to cover Adam’s sin in anticipation of the last Adam to come. But we do have some idea of what would have been like had God decided to judge Adam and his posterity without mercy in the original garden.

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