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Discover the Book - Apr. 6, 2009

  • 2009 Apr 06

Gethsemane: Where Jesus Prayed for Me!

Matthew 26.36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.  

Mark 14:32 Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”

Luke 22:40-46 When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. 46 Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”

"When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron" (v.1). The "these words" refer to the Paschal Discourse and the High Priestly prayer which have engaged our attention in the previous chapters. Having delivered His prophetic message, He now prepares to go forth to His priestly work. The "Garden" is the same one mentioned in the other Gospels, though here the Holy Spirit significantly omits its name - Gethsemane. In its place, he mentions the "brook Cedron," identical with "Kidron," its Hebrew name, which means "dark waters" - emblematic of that black stream through which He was about to pass. The Credron was on the east side of the city, dividing Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives (Josephus). It was on the west side of the city that He was crucified: thus did the Sun of Righteousness complete His atoning circuit!

An olive press pillar is called a "geth semane", the olive press, as in the fenced area by the Capernaum synagogue, Jesus would have been around Gethsemanes all His life. The press has the job of squeezing the precious oil out of the olives with tremendous pressure. Jesus as He bore the burden of the sin of the whole world had His own blood pressed and squeezed out in the Garden of Gethsemane. The weight of your sin and mine was so immense, and in a real sense it was you and me who became the pillar, the ‘geth semane’ press that crushed Jesus.

The physical suffering of Jesus began in the Garden of Gethsemane on the evening before His crucifixion. While the disciples slept, the Gospel of Luke records that the LORD "being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."2

This was written by the physician Luke, a well-educated man and a careful observer by profession.

Luke is also the only gospel writer to mention the bloody sweat, possibly because of his interest as a physician in this rare physiological phenomenon, which spoke eloquently of the intense spiritual agony Jesus was suffering... (Dr. Henry M. Morris, The Defenders Bible, marginal notes for Luke 22:44)

Although this medical condition is relatively rare, according to Dr. Frederick Zugibe (Chief Medical Examiner of Rockland County, New York) it is well-known, and there have been many cases of it. The clinical term is "hematohidrosis." "Around the sweat glands, there are multiple blood vessels in a net-like form." Under the pressure of great stress the vessels constrict. Then as the anxiety passes "the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture. The blood goes into the sweat glands." As the sweat glands are producing a lot of sweat, it pushes the blood to the surface - coming out as droplets of blood mixed with sweat. Jesus wasn't sweating blood because he was afraid of the physical pain of the cross. Indeed, the book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus looked forward to the cross:

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

It is impossible for us to comprehend Jesus’ love for His followers and His devotion to God. Not only is it difficult for us to imagine loving someone as much as He does, but also the fact that the ones He loves don’t deserve it makes it almost impossible to understand. The human mind cannot grasp the level of Jesus’ devotion to His Father’s will. He willingly went to His death on the cross. Yet Jesus did leave a record of His last hours of agony. Reading that record can help us begin to sense His love, and seeing that record in its proper setting can provide us with even more understanding. Jesus faced not only the pressure of His walk to the cross, but also the realization that He would be forsaken there by everyone, including His heavenly Father. Before His crucifixion, He chose to face that burden in a place created to apply enormous pressure: a Gethsemanean olive press. This devotional explores the hours Jesus spent at Gethsemane and how we can apply them to understand more about His love. This study should inspire you to be more dedicated to Him and willing to become more like Him.

The word Gethsemane comes from the Hebrew word gat-shemanim, which means “oil press.” After they were picked, olives were placed in a large basin to be crushed. As the millstone was turned, it rolled over the olives, crushing them to a pulp. The pulp was collected in baskets and placed under a stone weight in a pit. A horizontal beam, with one end in a hole in the wall, was placed across the weight, and some other heavy stone weights were suspended from it, placing enormous pressure on the pulp. Under this great pressure, oil from the olives flowed out of the baskets and into a pit underneath. The great weights and the beam used for pressing the oil are the Gethsemane.

Gethsemane provides a picture of Jesus’ suffering the night before His crucifixion. The task Jesus knew lay before Him - rejection, suffering, and finally death on a cross to pay for the sin of humanity pressed down upon Him like a heavy millstone. Jesus, straining under the pressure, was crushed like the olives in their baskets. His sweat, “like drops of blood falling to the ground,” flowed from Him like olive oil, a precious gift from God. Who was responsible for Jesus’ suffering? How should Jesus’ night of agony affect our lives? What can we learn from His anguish? What can Jesus’ response to the pressure He was under teach us about how we should respond to the needs of others? To the obligations God places on us?

Here are some final thoughts: What if Jesus had chosen to walk away into the night instead of facing His imminent arrest? Jesus wants us to love as He loves. Think about what this means for the attitude you have toward those God has placed in your life.

Conclusion: Spend some time in quiet prayer. Ask God to help you begin to appreciate the depth of the love Jesus has for you. Ask Him to help you realize that HE was in agony because of your sin. Pray for a commitment to resist sin because of your appreciation for the price Jesus paid. Ask for assurance that His blood has fully paid the price for your sin, and admit that you need Him to give you enough compassion to face suffering and stress in order to love others and act according to what is best for them. Pray for the strength and wisdom you need to follow Jesus’ pattern when you face the stress of sorrow and agony in your own life, turning honestly to God in complete devotion to His will.

We need to pay attention to the prayer that our Lord is praying here. “This cup” evidently represents His cross, and the contents are the sins of the whole world.

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