A Tale of Two Gardens

This Easter video examines the death and resurrection of Jesus from the perspective of the two gardens mentioned in the gospels. First of all Jesus spent his last night in the Garden of Gethsemane praying. It was an anguished time for him.

Luke 22:42-44  "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 
Jesus had said all along to his disciples that he was going to die - and come back to life three days later. His disciples were in denial about it because they were expecting different of the man they hailed as Messiah. All the gospels, written by followers of Jesus stress that the events of the garden and the hours and days that followed were a shock to them - both to see him executed and even more so to see him alive again.

What sort of Jesus do you believe in? One thing for sure is that Jesus was a historical person and that the Romans executed him. But can we seriously believe his disciples' account? Dead men rising? Surely not?

Then who was Jesus? A good man who had some great moral teaching that has been followed by many down the years? That isn't the Jesus portrayed in the Bible. Jesus claimed to be God, pure and simple. That was completely unacceptable to the Jews - no-one could claim that as far as they were concerned. C S Lewis sums this up well by saying this of Jesus:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

How could we know whether Jesus really was who he said he was? I'd suggest two things. First of all, if he were God, then there must be something really unlikely, even impossible about him? How about rising from death, be cause no-one can beat death unless..... So did it happen? It's been much debated over the centuries. Most people who come to it with an open mind find that as they look at it they end up with the "impossible" conclusion - he did rise from the dead.

The other implication from this is that if Jesus died and rose again, and the purpose of that was to bring people back into a relationship with God, then it should be possible for that to happen. As far as I'm concerned that is the case in my experience of walking with God. As I said in the video the words from Paul's letter to the Romans sum up why Jesus came nicely

Romans 5:7-8 (The Message)  We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

Jesus died in order that the things that keep us from God could be dealt with; our own actions such as just ignoring him except when it suits, blaming him for things that are our own fault, doing things that are offensive to God let alone other people, bearing grudges and unforgiveness - things the Bible calls sin. Jesus made a way by which we could know God personally - yes, that's right -personally.

Now if that's true, then knowing God should be life changing shouldn't it? You bet it is! If you are finding life difficult for whatever reason, or just can't make sense of it at all, then maybe it's being in a relationship with God - something he made you for.

It's strange how that sometimes the way we can make sense of life is through something that we've known at least something about, and has been present in our community for as long as we have, yet we've thought it as irrelevant, unfashionable, nonsense. That's the Christian faith for many today. Yet, scratch the surface and you'll find a God that wants to make the connection with you.

How do I connect with God? Just speak to him. Recognise that you've ignored him, offended him, dismissed him; ask his forgiveness and receive his gift of life and hope and follow Jesus. If you want to know more, just contact us and we'd be happy to email or speak with you, whichever you prefer.

If you want to know more about evidence for the resurrection than have a look at the following websites.
Evidence for the resurrection: overview, short summary
 - something more theological Tom Wright, Hampton Keathley, Shandon Guthrie

Have a great Easter - may this one for you be a blessing that you've never experienced before.