The picture in this blog is an olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemene. I saw this tree about three years ago when I traveled to Israel and Jordan. It is said that this tree was 2000 years old when Jesus prayed here before his death. It looks like it! It must have many stories to tell, as it has witnessed most of recordable history. It sure makes a statement of perseverance as I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything alive that is over 4000 years old??? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything, other than the Earth, that is 4000 years old. It seems that the tree has added layer after layer to the trunk to provide protection for the core hidden deep in this craggly conglomoration of wood. I believe things in nature happen for a reason as they evolve. This tree has a story of survival unsurpassed by many.
In a couple of days we will visit the Garden again, even if it is only in our imagination. We will travel with Jesus and the disciples from the Upper Room and the initiation of a new passover meal and head up the hill to the garden. We’ll get drowsy as Jesus continues to pray, and pray. We’ll feel the chill of the crowd coming with torches and their unrealistic expectations. We’ll be enraged by the betrayal of one of our own, who thinks he is doing the right thing by turning Jesus over to the authorities. As they drag Jesus off in the midst of the mob, we will hear our hearts pounding as we run through the garden looking for a place to hide. Maybe we’ll hide behind this tree.
As in most things God’s story run counter culturally to ours. The world of this tree adds scabs to heal and protect. In the Kingdom of God, being stripped to our core provides our healing. In the Kingdom of God you don’t hide your hurts under layer and layer of protection, you expose it to the Light of the World.
Good Friday has a message of healing and wholeness for us all. It’s message requires we walk through the storm not build a fortress and hide. It’s message says there is a bigger plan than might first be apparant to us, and it is God’s plan that matters to us. Yes, this tree is very impressive and it truly a marvel. But what is going to happen this Friday is bigger to us than anything that has or ever will happen in history. God will lay down His life for us – again