Friday, April 22, 2011

The Symbolic Power of the Garden of Gethsemane

I have no clue whatsoever the mechanics of the part of the atonement accomplished in the Garden of Gethsemane, but I really believe that the symbolism of a scapegoat (the ancient concept of figuratively loading a goat with the sins of the people and releasing that goat into the wilderness, taking the sins of the people with it) is powerful. I'm not trying to imply that the suffering in the Garden was soley symbolic, but that representation would have resonated deeply with the people of that day.

The key for us, I believe, is to take that basic idea (of truly casting our burdens upon the Lord) and finding a way for that to resonate with us. If that means someone believes He actually suffered every exact pain and sin she does, great; if someone else believes He suffered extreme representative pain (the worst of every type of pain), great; if someone else believes it all is figurative (that Jesus' sinless suffering typified pure obedience and submission regardless of the actual pain), great. All I care about at the most fundamental level is that I accept Him as the Lord and Savior and Redeemer - that whatever He did, it covers my sins and imperfection and allows me to pursue growth and eventual perfection.

I care FAR more about what we take from it than the actual mechanics of the event.


Howard said...

Christ was alone so the audience for Gethsemane was the dead not the living. Since the dead had already personally suffered death and knew there was an after life it carried a different meaning than His Crucifixion. I believe the message was He would carry their burdens allowing them to be freed from their own hell or guilt they had to witness His physical suffering to believe.

Papa D said...

That is an interesting interpretation, Howard - one I hadn't considered. Thanks for sharing it. I'll have to ponder it further.

Richard Alger said...