Living between the Gardens
Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Gethsemane- The Garden of Struggle
“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee (John and James), he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying “My father if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as you will. ” Matthew 26:36-46
Today, we are going to look at the second installment of our four part series of gardens in the bible. For this lesson, we are going to look at the garden of struggle—Gethsemane.
The Mount of Olives
Gethsemane comes from two Hebrew words— גת שמנים, Gat Shmanim; meaning the olive press. Gethsemane has some of the oldest olive trees in the world, some of them 900-1800 years old. It is why Gethsemane was also called the Mount of Olives.
Jesus and his disciples regularly spent time on the Mount of Olives. It appears from the scriptures, that it was one of Jesus’ favorite places during his earthly life. Two things strike me from knowing this. One, we know from John 1:3 that “all things were created by him and for him.”
So, on the night that he was to be betrayed, he went to the garden to pray. While in the garden, he was kneeling in the dirt and grass that he created, next to the olive trees that he created, leaning against a rock that he created, staring up at the moon and stars he created. Each part of Gethsemane was strategically placed from the beginning of time to bring him to this moment in time.
Secondly, being an omniscient, all-knowing God, how could this garden, that he knew would soon bring him such much agony, distress, and ultimately a temporary separation from his Father, be his favorite place?
Maybe the answer is in the question?
However, it is no coincidence that this is where he would choose to go on that night. Let’s look at olives for a moment…
Olives and Olive Oil
It is commonly known that eating raw olives is unpleasant. They are bitter and useless to man in this raw form. As a result, olives must either go through a rigorous purging and purification process to remove the chemical that makes them bitter, or they must be pressed, crushed, and flattened. This crushing of the body of the olive causes precious oil to freely flow.
Because it is mentioned many times throughout the word of God, we know that the olive tree and olive oil are very symbolic throughout the bible. In Exodus 27:20 it tells us, “Command the people to supply you with the purest olive oil. Do this so the lamp will keep burning in front of the curtain that separates the holy place from the most holy place. “
Important to note, the holy of holies was a sacred place designed for the atonement of sins. The lamps in front of the curtain were always burning to symbolize the light of God. (Jesus said, “I am the light of the world!”) Also, the high priest would need to anoint himself with the purest oil in order to go behind the veil to the most holy place.
I could do a whole study on the structure of the temple and how Jesus fulfilled it all (maybe one day!).
To fulfill this archetype, Jesus would need to be crushed and pressed on every side for the sins of the world, to purge the bitter curse of sin from man. Through the crushing of Jesus Christ, our precious lamp and the light of the world, the purest oil would flow out from him and sanctify us all.
Jesus would become the final high priest, go behind the veil, and atone for our sins. It is why on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” Death would lose its sting, and the victory would belong to Jesus!
Jesus in the Garden
Going back to the garden, we remember the words that Jesus cried to his Father at least three times, “let this cup pass.”
Turning to the book of Revelation, in chapter 14 verses 9-10, we glean some knowledge about what he meant. “If anyone worships the beast and image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, he also will drink the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength with the cup of his anger…”
The cup that Jesus was referring to was the cup of God’s wrath which is poured out on all sinners. Jesus would have to drink from that cup, and he would have to drink it all. It is this cup that Jesus dreaded, for he would have to endure the full wrath of God in a way that no one else could.
Obviously, this was troubling, but make no mistake, Jesus was never going to compromise the mission he had come to earth to fulfill. The plan had been set in motion since the beginning of time—since the fall of man.
The cross was the only way. However, it doesn’t mean that Jesus still didn’t question his Father’s will one last time. Had it changed? Was there another way? We know the story and thus, we know that God’s plan never wavered.
I believe Jesus was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death because in his humanity, he feared the agony he would face on the cross and the indescribable pain his body would need to endure. In his divinity, he knew that he would have to drink the wrath of God, and that his Father would forsake him.
This is why on the cross Jesus cried out to his Father, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The wrath of the sin of all mankind made it unbearable for God to look at his son, He had to look away. The foreknowledge of this tormented Jesus.
The Garden of Struggle
This was the struggle—the internal grappling between Jesus as human, and Jesus as God. The struggle was so intense that the bible tells us in Luke’s account (Luke 22) that his agony resulted in the physical manifestation of sweating drops of blood.
But then, Jesus speaks a beautiful word, “nevertheless”. Jesus surrendered to the will of his Father. “Not my will, but yours be done.” He took that cup of salvation and he drank every bitter drop. I cannot imagine the horrors that must have overtaken him.
I have tears as I write these words, because I know that his obedience in that moment has solidified my eternal salvation. I will never be able to praise him, worship him, or thank him enough for those words he spoke with such conviction in that garden that fateful night.
The struggle in Gethsemane ended, next would come the garden of suffering and victory.
In next week’s blog, we will look at Golgotha… the story is not over…we have much more to learn!
Susie O’Neal (Between the Gardens Ministry) Like on Facebook- BetweentheGardens Like on Instagram-between_the_gardens(susanmoneal)
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