It was the last night of the world as they knew it.
The events set in motion in that second Garden would mean that everything, for everyone, everywhere, would change forever.
It had already been an long week and an eventful evening. From the wonderful chaos of the entry into Jerusalem just a week ago through to the bewildering meal where Jesus washed their feet, it must have been overwhelming for the disciples.
They must have sensed some electricity in the air, but it wasn’t enough to keep them awake… even when Jesus asked them to watch with Him through the night.
So He prayed alone.
There in that Garden, as the night intensified around Him, the Son of God prayed with such passion that He began to sweat blood. He cried out to God, calling Him, “Abba” as He wrestled with what lay ahead.
I’ll never forget the first time I was in Jerusalem. I was walking down an alleyway in the old city when I heard a child cry out, “Abba! Abba!” and turned to watch a tiny boy leap into his delighted father’s arms. The intimacy and depth of that love was startling as I heard that word used as it was designed… not just as an old translation from my well-worn Bible, but a living utterance of a child encountering his Daddy. I understood in a new way just how profound the love between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit was in that moment.
For all of eternity, they had existed together in that ‘Divine Dance’ of beautiful intimacy, complete connection, and perfect love.
And on this night, Jesus was agonising over the fact that they would be separated at the cross for the first time in eternity, on the last night of the world as it was.
Jesus didn’t agonise over the physical pain He would face as He was beaten, scorned and finally nailed to a rugged tree. He wept over the separation that He would endure. And then He resolutely chose it.
He chose that separation so that we could finally be reconnected.
In Ephesians 5, Paul writes about this very thing in verses 31 and 32:
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church.
When I was 23, I stood in front of my family and my friends and promised my life forever to a girl who had been a complete stranger to me just six years before, when I first met her. We shared nothing. We weren’t family. We had no history before that first meeting. One day I didn’t know her at all, but here I was now, leaving all I had ever known to marry her and start a new life together.
The woman who would become my wife went from being a complete stranger to the closest person in all of history to me. Every other relationship in my life, including my parents, siblings, and friends became secondary to that one relationship with her.
That’s what Paul is writing about. And astoundingly, he’s saying that’s exactly what Jesus did for us.
Jesus left the most intimate, most perfect, most complete connection of all eternity so that He could rescue us.
He gave it all away for love. For us.
It was the last night of the world as it was. Love made a choice in a Garden and then Love kept His word.
He would give it all for us.
Nothing would ever be the same again.
Easter means that the last night of the world ended in darkness but also that a new world would soon dawn, breaking into a glorious new day of Hope for every heart, everywhere, forever.