“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.” (Ephesians 1:7-8)
In the Garden of Gethsemane beneath an orchard of ancient olive trees sprouting silver-tinted leaves, I read again that you are “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation…”(Colossians 1:15), and I acknowledge you again as the central figure of the universe, “the first cause himself uncaused.”
In this place where you laid prostrate on the ground, I stand before you as a slave redeemed from the heavy chains of sin and the backbreaking constraints of self-righteous pride. Now I am bound to you alone, to the freedom you purchased for the world after you left this garden and made your way to Calvary. You carried the unbearable weight of the cross and spilled your priceless blood to ensure I am never shackled in chains again.
Where you agonized alone, I am before you as one whose outstanding debts have been forgiven and erased. When they found you in this garden, they wielded swords and clubs to arrest you as if you were a dangerous criminal. You succumbed to all their degrading actions to ensure my debtor prison doors would swing open wide. I walk free in the liberty you paid at a high price.
Here on the Mount of Olives you allowed that betrayer Judas to plant his kiss on you. I, in turn, am no longer your enemy. I stand before you as one reconciled to God, my fractured relationship completely restored, my soul secure because you chose to sacrifice your life for me..
They took you from here, judged you falsely, and condemned you to death on a Roman cross. And I, the guilty one, stand before you as a sinner justified and righteous in your sight.
In this location you pleaded with your Father to take away the bitter cup of suffering, but you chose his will rather than your own. You made my adoption certain so I could lose my status as a stranger and become his beloved child forever.
I stand today in this olive grove where you willingly laid down your life. I wait before you quietly, trying to grapple with the magnitude of your sacrifice to purchase me eternal life.
Elizabeth A. Mitchell