In the last book of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Sam Gamgee wakes up with the horrible thought that all of his friends are dead. Instead, he looks around and discovers them all to be very much alive. “Gandalf!” he cries out, “I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead! Is everything sad going to come untrue?”
Tim Keller used this quote in his sermon at Service of Remembrance and Peace for 9-11 Victims’ Families at Ground Zero in 2006. “The answer is YES,” says Keller. “And the answer of the Bible is YES. If the resurrection is true, then the answer is yes. Everything sad is going to come untrue.”
We’ve read and explored Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness from which He emerged victorious. Despite Satan’s desperate attempts to corrupt Him, Jesus remained submitted to the Father’s will. We can read His temptation narrative as the reversal of Israel’s misfortune, who, when they wandered in the wilderness, did not resist temptation but succumbed to it. Jesus’ victory guarantees us a greater hope: though we are not more faithful than Israel, when we are identified with Christ, His faithfulness is exercised on our behalf.
In today’s narrative, we find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. We should recall the first Adam in the first garden. That first Adam was faithless, disregarding the commands of God and eating the forbidden fruit. But the second Adam is faithful. Here we see the prayers and petitions to which the writer of Hebrews referred in our reading yesterday. Jesus petitioned God for exemption from the cross, but this petition was also accompanied by a prayer of submission. “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (v. 39).