Is there anybody who would not like to take a cool walk through a beautiful garden filled with green patches of grass and trees adorned with flowers, fruits and leaves? My guess is “No”. Irrespective of the age factor anybody and everybody would love to do such a thing. That would bring peace and joy to the mind and soul. Unusually the Word of God talks about a Garden which is remembered even today as a Garden of tears and sorrow. This is none other that “GETHSEMANE” situated in a land which the people of the world call “The Holy Land” or “The Promise Land” where Jesus spent a few hours on the night that he was betrayed.
In modern day Israel, this garden is believed to be located in the East side of the Jerusalem city and to the West of Mt.Olives. One has to cross the Kidron valley through which a brook flowed in Jesus days to reach this garden ‘Gethsemane’. The Word ‘GETHSEMANE’ is translated as ‘Oil Press’. Olive Oil was and is common in the land of Israel even to this day. This garden would’ve contained Olive trees and probably a factory place where the fruit was crushed to bring out the oil for storage thereby earning it’s name ‘Gethsemane’ meaning ‘Oil press’. This site today is survived by eight Old Olive trees some of them dating back to the time of Jesus to about two thousand years.
The word of God gives us a good description of what happened in this garden on the night of betrayal in the Gospels (Matthew 26: 36-56 , Mark 14: 32-52 , Luke 22: 39-53 , John 18: 1-11).
Let us begin our study from the words of Jesus to his disciples soon after the passover meal known today widely as “The Last Supper”. Jesus gathers eleven of his disciples exempting Judas as he left the room and walks towards the garden of Gethsemane. He shares a few words on certain requirements and reminders.
“When I sent you with money bag, sack and sandals, did you lack anything?
Now he who has a money bag, let him take it and likewise sack. He that has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one” [Luke 22: 35, 36]
If we magnify these lines we notice a little difference between the first and the second statement.
First statement: Money bag, Sack, Sandals
Second statement: Money bag, Sack, Sword
“Sandals” denote the good news of the Gospel as stated in Ephesians 6 : 15. Interestingly Jesus replaces the word “Sandals” with “Swords”. And the disciples said “Here are two swords and he said ‘It is enough’ ” [Luke 22:38]. In the list of the armor of God mentioned in Ephesians 6: 17, ‘Sword’ denotes the ‘Word of God’. Jesus comments that two swords are enough for us to proceed in our journey. Yes, the Word of God contains two swords divided as the ‘Old Testament’ and the ‘New Testament’. These two swords of the word of God are enough for all of us to follow Jesus and proclaim the gospel.
Jesus takes 11 disciples with him to the garden and picks 3 to accompany him further more distance and then moves away from the 3 to a stone throw distance to pray[ Matt 26: 36-37, Mark 14: 32-33 ]. He picks 3 namely Peter, James and John. It is strange to see that these were the ones who had a significant impact in the church(the bride of Christ) age.
- James – First Martyr among the 11 disciples
- Peter – The Elder to the church during whose sermon Holy Spirit descended on the 120 and 3000 Jews and Gentiles later in the house of Cornelius
- John – The disciple to whom God showed the End of the church age and the End times
Jesus returns back 3 times and expects them to watch. He specifically asks Peter the second time if he could watch one hour [ Mark 14: 37 ]. Later the hour came when the betrayer was at hand and Jesus was arrested. Peter follows Jesus secretly to the courtyard of the High priest. It was then that Peter denied Jesus 3 times before the rooster crowed twice and remembered Jesus words. Peter wept bitterly after this incident. This is because
- Peter remembered Jesus words prophesying that he will deny 3 times before the rooster crows twice
- Peter remembered Jesus pleading in Gethsemane to him to watch and pray 3 times.
Alas! Peter said he will remain faithful even until death.
Notice the words “Watch and Pray that YOU do not enter into temptation”. It was Jesus who was about to go through suffering and crucifixion. If so , why did he specify that the disciples are going to go through temptation. Peter was the one who said I would follow you even to death but when temptation arose he could not withstand. He could only regret for his actions. Should we not watch and pray to keep ourselves from temptation before things happen or before the evil one deceives us rather than weeping bitterly later.
The disciples were sleeping in the garden of Gethsemane on the night of betrayal despite of Jesus telling them to watch and pray. Jesus the son of God who is God himself came to meet with them in the Garden when his heart was filled with sorrow thinking about the sins of the world. Doesn’t this incident coincide with a similar incident in the first beginning. God came down in the “cool” of the day to meet with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden but they were hiding themselves because sin had entered and corrupted humanity [Gen 3: 8 ]. “Sleep” signifies “Death”. When Jesus rose lazarus and the young girl, he specifies that they are “asleep”. When Sin entered mankind through Adam and Even, death entered into the world. “The wages of Sin is Death”. How much could’ve Adam and Even avoided if only they watched and prayed to have that communion with God. The very same context but just two different “Gardens” namely Eden and Gethsemane. Our Second Adam Jesus desired to restore mankind’s relationship with God by submitting himself in obedience to the Will of God.
When Jesus prayed thrice almost the same prayer, he was filled with sorrow and his sweat turned into blood. Only “Luke” in his Gospel writes about this occurrence. “Luke” was a not a jew but a gentile physician or doctor. He gives a detail description of what happened in the body of Jesus at that moment. Today science calls such happening true and names it as “Hematidrosis”. A quick Wiki tells us more about this biological effect on humans.
From Wikipedia – Blood as sweat when blood vessel rupture and blood enters sweat glands due to stress.
The Gospel does not specify that “Jesus Wept” during this incident. However, in the epistles to the Hebrews, Paul writes
“ Who in the days of his flesh wept with strong crying and tears[ Heb 5:7 ]”
This incident was prophesied many thousand of years before by Jacob when he offered blessings to Judah.
“ Binding his foal to the wine and his ass’s colt to the choice vine. He washed his garments in wine and his clothes in blood of grapes” [ Gen 49: 10, 11]
Jesus who came in the lineage of Judah was God’s foal and colt. He was bound for the “Wine” and the “Choice Wine”. The word of God in many places denotes Israel as the vineyard. He was not only bound for them but strangely for someone else whom he specifies as “Choice Wine”. None other than the ‘Gentiles’. Oh how marvelous is the love of God!
Moreover Jesus was strengthened by angel when he prayed with sorrow in Gethsemane. The BOOK specifies that God made man a little lower than the angels. Now Jesus was “The Son of Man” although he was the ‘Son of God”. He made himself lower than the angels as human and so needed to be strengthened by the angel. This proves that Jesus was truly human and had to undergo this pain as a man to restore man’s glory and make man higher than the angels to be like him seated with him on the throne.
“Being made so much better than the angels as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they”. [Heb 1:4]
Jesus in obedience chose to be a man even when he had power as the Son of God to relieve himself of this death incident. He demonstrates that he is the “Son of God” when he heals the ear of “Malchus” whose ear Peter cut off. Further more he still tells the fact that he is “THE GREAT I AM” when he utters “I AM HE” to the people who came to arrest him in the garden. We read that they went backwards and fell [ John 18: 5, 6 ]
Jesus the Son of God became Son of Man to pay the price for us and won victory in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was pressed to maximum temptation just as a substance is pressed to bring out the OIL from it in a press. He had the power to avoid it but chooses to suffer.
“Father if you are willing remove this cup from me nevertheless not my will but yours” [Luke 22: 42 ]
Jesus as a Lamb of God submitted himself obeying and doing the father’s will for his love on US.
Oh how wonderful Oh how marvelous is the LAMB who died for us!