The garden at Gethsemane, a place whose name literally means “oil press,” is  located on a slope of the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Valley from  Jerusalem. A garden of ancient olive trees stands there to this day. Jesus  frequently went to Gethsemane with His disciples to pray (John 18:2). The most famous events at Gethsemane occurred  on the night before His crucifixion when Jesus was betrayed. Each of the Gospel  writers describes the events of that night with slight variations, so reading  the four accounts (Matthew  26:36-56, Mark  14:32-52, Luke  22:40-53 and John  18:1-11) will give an accurate picture of that momentous night in its  entirety.

As the evening began, after Jesus and His disciples had  celebrated the Passover, they came to the garden. At some point, Jesus took  three of them—Peter, James and John— to a place separated from the rest. Here  Jesus asked them to watch with Him and pray so they would not fall into  temptation (Matthew  26:41), but they fell asleep. Twice, Jesus had to wake them and remind them  to pray so that they would not fall into temptation. This was especially  poignant because Peter did indeed fall into temptation later that very night  when three times he denied even knowing Jesus. Jesus moved a little way from the  three men to pray, and twice He asked His Father to remove the cup of wrath He  was about to drink, but each time He submitted to the Father’s will. He was  “exceedingly sorrowful unto death,” but God sent an angel from heaven to  strengthen Him (Luke  22:43).

After this, Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, arrived with a  “multitude” of soldiers, high priests, Pharisees, and servants to arrest Jesus.  Judas identified Him by the prearranged signal of a kiss which he gave to Jesus.  Trying to protect Jesus, Peter took a sword and attacked a man named Malchus,  the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Jesus rebuked Peter and  miraculously healed the man’s ear. It’s surprising that witnessing this amazing  miracle of healing had no effect on the multitude. Neither were they shaken by  His awesome display of power as described in John 18:5-6,  where either at the majesty of His looks, or at the power of His words, or both,  they became like dead men, falling to the ground. Nevertheless, they arrested  Him and took Him to Pontius Pilate, while the disciples scattered in fear for  their lives.

The events that occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane have  reverberated down through the centuries. The passion Jesus displayed on that  momentous night has been depicted in music, books, and films for centuries. From  the 16th century, when Bach wrote two magnificent oratorios based on the gospel  accounts of Matthew and John, to the present day with the film The Passion of  the Christ, the story of this extraordinary night has been told again and  again. Even our language has been affected by these events, giving us such  phrases as “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword” (Matthew 26:52); “the  spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38);  and “sweating drops of blood” (Luke 22:44).  Of course, the most important impact of this night was the willingness of our  Savior to die on the cross in our place in order to pay the penalty for our  sins. God “made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the  righteousness of God in Him” (2  Corinthians 5:21). This is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Advertisements