From: T.M. Schoewe
We often sing “go to dark Gethsemane, ye who feel the temper’s power.” Permit me to take you to Gethsemane which means “oil press.” It is where they pressed the oil out of olives and where usually Lenten meditations begin. We come out of the east artery of the city of Jerusalem down a winding road (several blocks) coming to the brook of Cedron which we cross and then come to a garden of olive trees that is at the foot of a hill where there is a road that leads up to the Mount of Olives.
It is here where our Lord led his disciples on a Thursday evening, after He had introduced them to what we call the Lord’s Supper (what the church calls the Sacrament of the Altar), with elements of bread and wine that were left over from their Passover observance. Here in this olive garden Jesus begins His last suffering. He had predicted it in the upper room where they had shared His last supper, but the disciples simply did not catch on to what was about to happen. Here in the garden the Lord begins to feel the pressure of what is about to transpire and He asks the disciples to watch with Him as He prays. But they are tired and simply go to sleep. He calls them to attention a couple of times but they continue to sleep. He could see Judas coming into the garden with a Sanhedrin detail to identify Him with a kiss and hold a midnight trial where he would be accused of blasphemy and before morning condemned by the Roman governor to be crucified. Then after having His back ripped open like a plowed field by the Roman scourge and having been crowned with thorns, with the crowd crying “crucify Him,” he is nailed to a tree to die between two capital law breakers, with the crowd challenging Him to come down from the cross, “if You are really the Son of God.” But He refused to do so! There in mid-day for three hours when the sun refused to shine, He would suffer hell crying “My God why have you forsaken me.” To be sinless but to die.
Foreseeing what was in store for the next 24 hours was a pressure that made Him cry out “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful even unto death.” And no wonder the evangelists write that His sweat was like great drops of blood falling on the cool April ground.
And Satan was there tempting Him again to see if there was not another way to go, to escape drinking such a cup of suffering. But He refuses praying “not My will but Thine be done” and so does not interfere with God’s plan of salvation for His mankind of sinners.
Christians are expected to take up their cross and follow the Lord. We all have different crosses and if ever you are tempted to get rid of your cross just go back to the oil press (Gethsemane) and watch your Lord, you’ll pick up your cross again and pray “Jesus lead Thou me on, till my rest is won.”
If you ever have the opportunity to go to what we used to call the “Holy Land,” go to Gethsemane. The garden of olive trees is still there but now over the rock or boulder at which Christ prayed is built “The Church of All Nations.” A couple of very old, snarled olive trees are in the yard, which botanists claim are over 2000 years old. It is very hard to identify our Lord’s birthplace as the Church over the cave in Bethlehem and even harder to believe the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is where Jesus was crucified and buried. But here at the foot of the mountain of olives, at the “oil press,” we can easily identify with the beginnings of our Lord’s suffering on Maundy Thursday evening. Next week we will be “going to hell.”