Do you have a special place where you like to "get away from it all"; maybe a secret place where you like to go and reflect/pray? Some of us like to go for walks, sit in a park pondering life, meditating on issues, and talking to our God. It is a necessity to leave the world behind for a moment, quiet our soul and recharge; empty ourselves so God can refill us. I have my special place; I know many people who have their secret place; there are many biblical examples of this also. In today's reading we are privy to enter into Jesus' secret place - Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. The Garden of Gethsemane, historians tell us, "must have been clothed with verdure--oliveyards, fig orchards and palm groves, with myrtle and other shrubs... fresh breezes and among the thick foliage" (ISBE). Luke tells us that, "Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives" (Luke 21:37). Luke also says that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives as "usual" (Luke 22:39). The Garden of Gethsemane, which means Olive press, was located on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. It is here that the Gospels tell us Jesus retreated to pray before His arrest and execution. It would be the final place Jesus would go of His own will. From here He would be led to His death.
Luke tells us that Jesus knelt down and prayed, a distance away from His disciples. Luke gives us few details, but what he does share is very enlightening. Jesus is deep in prayer - agonizing prayer. He is in such anguish that He begins to sweat drops of blood. Doctors call this "Hematohidrosis"; a medical condition caused by extreme emotional stress. James says, "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). Friends, it doesn't get more fervent than this! And His prayer availed MUCH! He was in such deep prayer that an Angel came to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43). Do you want to know what He was praying for? The strength to endure what the Father had planned for Him - torture, mockery, crucifixion, separation from God, the ability to endure the sin of all of humanity placed on Him! He wanted to accomplish God's will (Luke 22:42). We know from John 17 that He prayed for all His disciples, including us (see: John 17:20-25).
Friends, this is truly an incredible scene, full of meaning, which a little investigation and meditating will reveal. As I meditated on this whole scene, I found it fascinating that Gethsemane means oil press. Picture an olive in a press, being squeezed so that the oil comes out to provide nourishment, lamp oil, etc. to its consumers. The pressure applied to it produces life for others. Luke who is a doctor by trade, is the only one who captures this medical condition of Hematohidrosis. The pressure Jesus is under is so extreme, it causes His blood to run - like the olive oil oozing out of the olive, the blood oozes out of Jesus' pores - life giving blood shed for us!
This whole scene takes place in a garden. Do you remember the other garden where the old Adam was lured into sin - he fell from grace and brought sin upon himself and all his descendants. He was tempted to go against the Father's will, disobeying Him, and subjecting all of humanity to the curse. In this garden, the new Adam - Jesus the Christ - will obey the Father's will and break the curse that is upon humanity (Galatians 3:10-13). In the old garden, God killed a lamb to cover the shame of the sin of Adam. From this garden, the Lamb of God will cover the sins of the whole world!
In 2Samuel 15, King David flees to the Mount of Olives, running from his son Absalom who wants to overthrow him. The son of David rose against David to steal his kingdom. Read 2Samuel 15:30-37, it is a very solemn scene of defeat and retreat. Now in the Gospels, at the Mount of Olives, we have the Son of David, about to defeat His enemies through the cross, inaugurating His own Kingdom (See Colossians 1:13-14), fulfilling the promise made to David that his throne would last forever (see: 2Samuel 7:12-14).
This is so incredible! From the Mount of Olives, one can see the whole city of Jerusalem. Jesus knew His future. He knew that He would one day stand on the Mount of Olives again as victorious King; but first He would have to go to the cross. One day friends, Jesus will stand on the Mount of Olives, victorious after defeating all the nations who have risen up against Him. He will establish a New Jerusalem and be king over all the Earth (Zechariah 14:4-11). God has a plan, and it will be accomplished. Our King will reign, and we will reign with Him.
Come Lord Jesus!
Have a great week!
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