Summary: The arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane shows us what sin is like: it is ordinary, it is out of place, it is pervasive. Jesus is the master gardener who can eradicate our "weeds".
No gardener wants weeds in his garden. But every gardener has them. Weeds are inevitable. Weeds cannot be avoided. So the question is, what will the gardener do to rid his garden of the weeds?
I love to walk around other people’s gardens. In other people’s gardens I don’t feel guilty about the work to be done. Now at our home, my wife is the real gardener, and I am just the go-fer. No, not the kind of gopher that makes holes in the lawn. I’m the kind you tell to go-fer the sack of fertilizer and go-fer the spade. But, still, when I look at our garden, I’m afraid I see a huge amount of work to be done. And so I’d rather walk through other people’s perfect gardens, where every plant is just right, every flower is complete, and no chip of mulch has spilled outside the boundaries. Other people have perfect gardens; at our house we have a work in progress.
On the first weekend in May every year the National Cathedral has a garden show, and you can not only go and buy little seeds and slips, you can also tour the Cathedral’s gardens. These gardens are, without fail, meticulously kept and beautifully manicured. Ah, but as I walked through the Bishop’s herb garden this year, I saw something. Something caught my eye as we rounded a curve. There, in the midst of all that beauty, all those carefully nurtured beds, a large, brassy, loud, flagrant dandelion! Aha, a weed! Right in the bishop’s herb garden! It made me feel just a little better about my back yard, where weeds flourish, though flowers fail. If even the Cathedral has weeds, then I guess it’s just part of the gardening experience, isn’t it? Just something to be expected.
And of course, it is. Weeds will show up in anybody’s garden. Weeds will show up, eventually, in everybody’s garden. No gardener wants weeds in his garden. But every gardener has them. Weeds are inevitable. Weeds cannot be avoided. So the question is, what will the gardener do to rid his garden of the weeds?
It was in one garden called Eden that the divine gardener planted trees and plants and vines yielding every good thing. It was in that garden called Eden that God created us and called us good. But into that same garden came an insidious, noxious, ugly weed called sin. Into that same garden came human sin, spoiling the perfection of the garden, marring the beauty of creation, and violating the will of the gardener. This weed, sin, was inevitable. It cannot be avoided. So what would the gardener do about the weeds in his garden? How would he rid his garden of these weeds?
It was in another garden, this garden called Gethsemane that the divine gardener worked out the answer. It was in this garden called Gethsemane that He dealt, once and for all, with this horrible weed that grows in every human life. In this garden, just outside a city wall, Jesus Christ came to pray, and in agony consented to do what must be done. In this garden they came to capture and to choke out the Rose of Sharon. But in this garden He burst forth from the tomb and destroyed that sin-weed, once and for all. I want you to know of that garden this morning. What happened in that garden tells us about ourselves and about what God is doing for us.
The first thing to see is that weeds can easily be overlooked, because they look so ordinary. Weeds can grow up in your garden without your even noticing, because they look so usual, so ordinary. I guess that’s why we have that phrase, garden-variety. Maybe it’s just a blade or two of grass, growing under the tomatoes. That’s what you see today. But tomorrow the two blades are a clump and next week a swatch. You hardly even notice it because it is just so common, so ordinary.
You see, sin is insidious because it is so ordinary. Sin sneaks up on us. It grows, little by little, day by day, and we scarcely even notice it. But it stays with us, it waits for the right opportunity, and then it strikes. Look at what happened in this garden:
Jesus ... went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples.
“Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples.” Sin went there every day along with Jesus. Evil lurked along with goodness. Right alongside Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom, there was one determined to build his own kingdom. Right alongside Jesus’ communion with the Father, there was one in communion with Satan. Sin is right here, in the ordinary, day-by-day commonplace things of life, and nobody notices. Nobody notices because sin, once it gets started, tricks us. It makes us think it belongs there, just part of the garden, just normal. Sin is destructive precisely because it does not look destructive. It looks commonplace.