On the western slope of the Mount of Olives, directly across the Kidron Valley from Temple Mount, lies the Garden of Gethsemane. Known as a garden of peace, it is typically anything but that, as some of the largest crowds in Jerusalem are often squeezed in here and jostling for position. Regardless, it is a special place for Christians, and many want to savor moments in this garden.
Unfortunately, like so many holy sites in Israel, a church sits atop a large section of the garden. Church of All Nations is flanked (to the left in the photo above) by a very small section of ancient olive trees, some of them believed to be from the time of Christ. Olive trees grow very gnarly as they grow old, and you can see some of the largest, gnarliest tree trunks anywhere.
But what happened here? Let’s go to Matthew 26 to find the account. Jesus knew His earthly end was coming, and had even been “prepared for burial” by the act of a woman who gave all she had. (See verses 6-13) Judas prepared to betray Him (verses 14-19) and Jesus spent Passover with His disciples, instituting the Lord’s Supper (verses 26-35). Afterward, He proceeded to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.
It was in this garden Jesus spent perhaps the most agonizing moments of His earthly life. He knew He was facing death, and though He knew He would overcome death ultimately, His humanness made it agonizing. Furthermore, and I believe even more agonizingly, He knew His people had rejected Him and that His death on the cross would not bring them to salvation. He was grieved, and pleaded with His Father to take the cup from Him. For the sake of all mankind, His Father said no. Luke 27:44, speaking of the same account, says Jesus sweat drops of blood.
That is agony.
As we pick it back up in Matthew 26:47-56, we find that Judas carries out his plot to deny Jesus, and Jesus is arrested. He did nothing wrong, and all of 6 different trials (3 civil, 3 religious) were illegal. One of those trials was at the palace of the high priest, Caiaphas. We visited Caiaphas’ house and saw the dungeon into which Jesus was thrown down and imprisoned.
I have written about this place in a previous post and cannot do it further justice. To truly understand this site, and to tie the account of Passion Week together, please read Jesus on Trial for details and pictures of the site.
Thank you for following. Our rewind will reach a crescendo in the coming days as we retrace Jesus’ steps to the cross, to the tomb, and to His resurrection! Stay with us…and I pray you are blessed!