Day 4 - Jesus in the Garden // Holy Week

Day 4// Jesus in the Garden

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is swallowed up in sorrow — to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.’ Going a little farther, He fell face down and prayed, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’ Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, ‘So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour? Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.’ And He came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open. After leaving them, He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up; let’s go! See, My betrayer is near.’ – Matthew 26:36-46

About ten years ago, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to Israel for a two-week, immersive learning experience across the entire country. It was life-changing!

Toward the end of the trip, we spent a few days in Jerusalem – the capital city of Israel where Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose again.

In Jerusalem, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, is the traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane (the Hebrew word, gat shemanim, means “oil press”) — a large, beautiful area full of wide and sturdy olive trees that can literally live for thousands of years. Our trip leader carved out a full two hours for us to visit the garden. He encouraged us to find a comfortable place to be alone under one of these old olive trees, read the Garden of Gethsemane passages from all four gospel accounts, and then spend time praying … right where Jesus prayed.

But why did Jesus choose to pray in this particular place? What is the significance of this agonizing moment happening in this olive garden? 

In ancient times, olives were harvested and turned into olive oil — a very useful resource for consumption, cooking, soaps, perfumes, and fuel for lamps. But to yield its precious oil, the olives had to be completely crushed with a millstone and ground into a pulp. Then, the pulp would be pressed with the weight of stones… once for the finest oil, a second time for more oil, and a third and final time for the last bit of oil that would be used as lamp fuel. Crushed, pressed once, pressed twice, and pressed a third time.

In Matthew 26, we see Jesus in the garden, surrounded by olive trees, being crushed by the weight of what is about to happen to Him for the sake of the world. Knowing the horrific torture of a ruthless, Roman crucifixion, the Scripture says that Jesus was deeply distressed to the point of death and experienced unimaginable anguish. Notice that Jesus prayed once, prayed twice, and prayed a third time, asking His Father to “let the cup pass from Him,” but willingly surrendered His will to the Father.

From another gospel account of this crucial moment, we read, “Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44). This rare condition, caused by ruptured blood vessels and sweat glands from extreme distress, is called hematohidrosis — something that Luke, as a doctor, could have very well seen before in others.

Do you see the connection here? For an olive to be useful, it must be crushed and pressed over and over again until the oil comes out. Jesus, being crushed and pressed by what He was about to endure on the cross, prayed over and over again and sweated drops of blood.

On this Wednesday of Holy Week, as we remember the eve of Jesus’ death on the cross, I encourage you to imagine yourself sitting under an olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane…take time to thank Jesus for His willingness to be crushed and pressed for you and for all who will believe. 

“He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.” – Isaiah 53:5
Author: Josh Rhodes, Pastor of Ministries

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