Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jesus is a Better Adam: How Gethsamane Corresponds to Eden - Part 1

Jesus is a Better Adam: How Gethsamane Corresponds to Eden - Part 1
Jesus is a Better Adam: How Gethsamane Corresponds to Eden - Part 2


Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all that the Old Testament anticipates. Proper exegesis must take into consideration this important theological principle. Before connecting Gethsemane to Eden, perhaps it would be beneficial to provide other examples in order to illustrate this principle.

All four Evangelists unfold the crucifixion story in a way that forces us to see that Jesus is a true and better Isaac. In Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to offer his son - his only begotten son - as a sacrifice. It is an appalling commanding and we should be offended by Abraham's obedience. Consider briefly the following parallels between Jesus and Isaac:
  • Isaac and Jesus were both sons of a promise that was given many years before their birth.*
  • Isaac and Jesus were both born to women who could not have conceived apart from a miracle.
  • Isaac and Jesus were both firstborn sons. 
  • Isaac and Jesus were both sons of Abraham.
  • Isaac and Jesus were both greatly loved by their father/Father.
  • Isaac carried his own wood to the sacrifice just as Jesus carried His own wooden cross to his crucifixion.  
  • Isaac and Jesus each willingly laid down their lives to their father/Father.
  • Isaac and Jesus were both laid down as a burnt offering for sin. 
  • Isaac was brought back from the dead figuratively and Jesus was brought back from the dead literally.
  • Isaac was almost sacrificed in Moriah which many believe became Jerusalem.

More parallels could be given. We should further add that Abraham promised his son a lamb would be provided by God(Jehovah-Jirah). And yet, no lamb was provided in place of Isaac. The text is clear that Abraham ended up sacrifices a ram after the Angel of the Lord (a pre-incarnate Jesus?). The reason for this is that Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the fulfillment of Abraham's prophecy.

Another example to consider regards Jesus and Israel. Jesus, we conclude here, is a true and better Israel. We see this the clearest in Matthew's Gospel though the other Synoptics hint at this connection.

In Matthew's version of the Nativity, Jesus is forced to flee to Egypt (of all places) due to the rampage of a king who sought to kill the innocents. Clearly, Matthew is drawing a parallel between the nameless Pharaoh in Exodus and Herod. Likewise, Jesus is spared the king's wrath just as Moses Israel's great deliverer, was.

The narrative quickly comes to the beginning of Jesus' ministry marked by his baptism. He enters the Jordan river from the west and is baptized "to fulfill all righteousness." But instead returning to Israel the way he came, Jesus continues to march east entering the wilderness where he will be tempted by the serpent for forty years.

All of this should sound familiar. Israel, following its emancipation, is symbolically baptized by marching through the parted waters of the Red Sea. They, like Jesus, immediately enter the wilderness. Israel faces constant, demonic temptation for forty years and ultimately fail. God is forced to wipe out an entire generation before leading them to the Promise Land. Jesus, however, conquers where Israel failed.

The parallels should be obvious, but they go even further when we look at the temptations themselves. In each of the temptations, Satan questions the Sonship of Christ (this is more clear in Luke where he introduces the temptation story with Jesus' genealogy). "If you are the Son of God," Satan says. Israel is said to be God's son by adoption. Christ, the Evangelists proclaim, is God's only begotten Son - one with the Father. Furthermore, the first temptation in Matthew's account regards bread. Interestingly enough, it is bread that makes Israel desire to be slaves again.

More parallels can be drawn but you get the point. One cannot interpret the first four chapters of Matthew's Gospel without stepping back and seeing how Jesus fits in redemptive history. Christ is the climax of the story and all that takes place in the Old Testament is anticipated and fulfilled in Christ.

In the next post, we will turn our attention to how Jesus' experience in the Garden of Gethsamane parallels that of Adam's in the Garden of Eden.


*Much of the following is taken from Mark Driscoll, Abraham Nearly Sacrifices Isaac. See also his notes here.
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