Just the mention of the name Gethsemane conjures up the ideas of emotion and passion. Tyndale indicated this within the book of Philippians that Paul desired to know Christ and to have “fellowship with his passions” Phil 3:10. But his passions were not only the horror, clamour and turmoil of the impending death, but the passionate quiet discovery of fulfilling the requirements of his Father. So his passions were equally demonstrated in the compassion on the ignorant, healing of the sick, sharing the “bread of desires” with his disciples, and the earnest faith of glory with His father without staggering on a mountain in the depths of night. It was in the garden that he called some of his disciples to share with his temptation in watching and prayer, but sadly they fell asleep, taking away the quiet solace and support that He so eagerly looked for.
Described as a garden John 18:1 The events were to stand in parallel with the contest in Eden, the battle with Goliath and the contest of the book of Esther. Gethsemane contains the idea of oil press. Geth, Gath or Git are all english translations of the hebrew idea of presses (both wine and oil) contained within the names of places such as Gath, Gath-hepher, Gittim etc. Oil presses were constructed to bring considerable pressure to bear on the collection of olives. To press the oil from these fruit was not done easily. The above illustrated oil press is a reconstructed oil press found at Irbid, Jordan, where the weight of the stone itself was used for the crushing. Another form had a stone with a beam reaching out. The weights attached to the end of the beam wound lever the pressure onto the fruit and extract the oil collected through a conduit into a collecting vessel. An example of this can be seen in-situ at Hatzor, Israel. The collected oil was to be used for mundane purposes such as lighting and cooking, but more especially for the purpose of anointing kings and priests, incorporation into the mincah or meal offering, and the anointing of yad, erected pillars demonstrating the limits of territory and the manner of the people inhabiting these lands. Oil was thus used in the anointing of the pillar at Bethel by Jacob and connected by its associated oath to a manner of living. This oath by Jacob would become the basis for the ritual of consecration of both the high priest and the priesthood of Israel in Lev 8, with the collected oil bathing the head of the high priest, assimilated in smaller form in the head of individuals wishing to live like him Num 6.
The garden stands in the northern end of the Kidron valley, and although there is a site celebrated today by a gaudy stone church, the ancient garden provided the atmosphere for contemplation, and was a safe place where Christ was in the habit of such activity. Judas was so accustomed to this fact that he knew he could find Him here when leading the Roman soldiers for his arrest.
But Gethsemane although mentioned by name in the gospels: Matt 26:36; Mark 14:32 has old-testament history, for it was past here that David would have passed on his ascent of the mount of Olives to flee the rebellion of Absalom, 2 Sam 15:30. His prayer was that the counsel of Ahithophel would be turned. 15:31 God answered his prayer immediately, but the outcome was to be unknown by David until 17:14 some time later. This is a valuable lesson for all waiting in patience for the work of God. God answers faithful requests promptly, but the results can be unexpected or unknown for some time, or even unappreciated except in its affects on others. A similar example is seen in the answering of Daniel’s prayer in Dan 10:10 where God responds from the first day when his heart was set.
Some comfort then would be afforded to Christ in this place, where the counsel of Ahithophel had been turned back. This counsel was typical not only of Judas, but of the force of sin demonstrated at work in him. It becomes the subject of numerous psalms and repeated sentiments later in David’s life when he was sick see Ps 41:5; 55:12; 38:11 This was a result of a spirit of bitterness Ps 109:16 created in the killing of his grand-daughter’s husband 2 Sam 11:3; 23:34. It was a failure to hear the verdict of Nathan that Yahweh had forgiven him, and his personal determination of vengeance was set in a greater place than the hand of deity Himself.
Gethsemane now provides a quest for all those who would be supporters of the king. To stand joined in the conquest against the power of sin, and to support those who battle with it. To those who share in his trials there is a bright prospect: “Instead, be very glad–for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world” 1 Peter 4:13.