If you walk down the slopes of the "Mount of Olives" in Jerusalem you will come to the entrance of a garden containing many ancient olive trees. Below the garden is the Kidron Valley with the bricked-up Eastern (Golden) Gate and old city beyond that. Its name will be familiar to many - the Garden of Gethsemane.
This is our first garden. It is a garden of anguish and a garden of loneliness. This is where Jesus suffered so much mental agony as He pondered the suffering of the cross that lay before Him the following day.
Jesus and a select bunch of His disciples had met up here on the night of His betrayal. I noticed that the meaning of the word "gethsemane" is "oil press" and just like the procedure where olives are crushed to release their oil, Jesus was under such intense mental pressure that blood capillaries in His forehead actually burst, causing blood to appear in His sweat. Today Doctors know this rare medical condition by the name of 'hematidrosis'.
And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. (Luke 22:44)
I visited the Garden of Gethsemane quite a few years ago but still remember how gnarled and twisted the old olive trees looked. It was as if those tortured forms still recalled the agony that our Lord Jesus went through prior to His betrayal and arrest that particular night.
I will let "Photoguide to the Bible" summarise this event…
In His real humanity, Jesus is appalled by the prospect of what He will be called on to undergo the next day. He knows how overwhelming the horror of His death will be; not just the physical pain of crucifixion, but the spiritual burden of the evil and alienation which comes from human sin - the blackness of separation from His Father!
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matt 26:39)
He calls his closest disciples to share with him in prayer, but they are unable to stay awake - the first of several failures to stand with Him in His time of great need. Jesus is spiritually alone. Judas (Iscariot) knows that the garden is their frequent place of meeting, and he leads the guards there as his act of betrayal, which is made still more insidious by the (in)famous 'kiss' by which he identifies Jesus to the guards.
Our Second Garden is also in Jerusalem and is beside Golgotha, "place of the skull", on Calvary's hill. After the crucifixion of Jesus at Golgotha, His body was taken to a garden nearby as a new tomb was available there (John 19:41).
Our first garden was a garden of anguish and a garden of loneliness and the same could be said of this garden also. After all, Jesus suffered a horrendous death and many of His companions had fled after His arrest. However, in reality, it is a garden of hope. For within its bounds the most important event in the history of man occurred… the bodily resurrection of the crucified Lord Jesus.
I will let Linda's Easter 2012 'Thought' summarise this great event, told from the perspective of Mary Magdalene…
Mary Magdalene came to the garden tomb on the first Easter morning (John 20: 11-18). Her hope seemed to be lost, the Voice of her Master, Teacher and Friend distant and gone for ever. He had been the One who'd saved her from the empty life she'd led before, where she'd known what is was like to be trapped by sin and hopelessness.
Through her tears she mumbled to the 'gardener', but really she was lost in her own pain. Was she really going to have to go back to a life she used to have before Jesus… with no hope?
Then it came. the Voice of Hope.
Not addressing the crowds as so many times before…
But speaking HER name… "Mary".
Even though she didn't totally understand what was happening, even though the Bible says she only managed to reply with one word, 'Teacher'. it didn't matter - she'd heard the Lord's Voice that brought HOPE back into her life!
And she didn't keep it to herself!
She shared the hope with those who were still hopeless. that Jesus is ALIVE forever, and we can be too!
That Voice still calls our individual names, just as He did in that garden... He sees just where we are and that we are struggling with our own pitiful resources.
That Voice still brings hope of a future, not without its problems, but with His help, His life in us, and His hope.
Until next month then (DV)…
(All Bible quotations are from the NASB)
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