Today, we visited the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, the place where Jesus experienced intense agony before he was betrayed by Judas and arrested by the guards on the night before his Passion and Death. After the Last Supper, in the night, he came here to pray. Jesus and his disciples were familiar with this garden, for it was the Lord’s custom to come to this location (Luke 22:39). But this night was different then any other night before. Listen to the words he speaks to Peter, James, and John:
“My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test…” (Matthew 26:38-41)
The first thing I noticed when I entered the Garden of Gethsemane were the massive olive trees. They are said to be around 800 years old, and they most likely have the same roots as the trees that surrounded Christ in his agony. When the olives are ready for harvest, they are taken from the trees, and are crushed and pressed in order to make delicious olive oil. Our tour guide pointed out that in a similar way, Jesus was crushed on this night under the weight of our sins… through his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, the Lord brought the wonderful gift of Redemption.
The church’s architecture at Gethsemane reflects the night of our Lord’s agony beautifully. This brought with it a sense of heaviness, especially with the dark walls and the purple stained-glass windows. Finally, at the foot of the altar is the rock on which Jesus prayed during his agony.
Needless to say, to be at the Garden of Gethsemane was a very moving experience, especially when considering how much the Lord suffered for our sake. Yet in the midst of all of this, I read the words of the Lord again: “Watch and pray.” In all the trials and tribulations of life, we are not alone. The Lord Jesus is with us, asking us to listen to his voice and to abandon ourselves into the hands of God the Father. In closing, I want to leave you with a plaque that is placed in the Garden of Gethsemane: