Why is the Garden of Gethsemane so important to Jesus' life? (2023)

It is a vulnerable moment just after the Last Supper when Jesus told his closest friends on earth what was about to happen to him - the painful betrayal he would suffer at the hands of one of them and his impending arrest, torture and crucifixion.

Full of fear and deep fear of what he was about to experience, Jesus withdrew with his closest circle, the three disciples closest to him, and took refuge in a special place. There, alone on His knees in the dark night under the shelter of olive trees, in a place called the Garden of Gethsemane, He cries out to His Father God.

And then he resolutely does what he must do to save all of humanity.

Where is the Garden of Gethsemane?

While the exact location is difficult to pinpoint, the Bible indicates that the Garden of Gethsemane is located on the Mount of Olives, a historical site of great importance throughout the Bible. The Mount of Olives was "a Sabbath march from the city," we are toldActs 1:12. Easton's Bible Dictionary of 1897 tells us that the Mount of Olives was so named because it was overgrown with olive trees. Located about 200 feet above sea level, it was one of the few ridges east of Jerusalem and offered a good view of the city. The Kidron Valley lies between the mountain and Jerusalem, and the whole region was a place Jesus often visited on his gospel journeys.

The Mount of Olives is a place of importance; King Solomon established there a "high place" for the worship of foreign gods, causing the Lord to become very angry with him (1 Kings 7-11). King David and his followers fled Jerusalem through the Kidron Valley and up the Mount of Olives, weeping and barefoot, after his son Absalom rebelled with a rebellion (2 Samuel 15:13-30). The Old Testament prophet Zechariah prophesied that “a day of the Lord” would come when the Lord would stand on the Mount of Olives ready for battle and be king over all the earth (Zechariah 14:1-9).

The garden was a place of great importance, where not only does a momentous event take place in the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, but where we can learn crucial lessons about what it means to be a Christian.

What is the Garden of Gethsemane?

The Garden of Gethsemane was a place of great importance to Jesus, referred to in all four Gospels as a place where Christ withdrew into deep prayer and a time of torment before his arrest and crucifixion, and near his ascensionHeavenin the book of Acts.

Laut Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible,Gethsemane is translated from Greek and means "an oil press". It is a place believed to be at the foot of the Mount of Olives beyond the Kidron Valley. Due to the reference to an oil press on a ridge overgrown with olive trees, it is believed to represent a small garden, plot of land or enclosure that is hidden and relatively private. It also likely contained an oil press, a type of mechanical device used to crush olives and then extract their oil for cooking and other uses.

Gethsemane is mentioned by name only twice in the Bible, although references to it are found throughout the New Testament as a place to which and through which Jesus traveled frequently.

Matthew says that Jesus took his three closest disciples—Peter, James, and John—with him “to a place called Gethsemane” (Matthew 26:36) so that he could pray. There he wrestled in great sorrow with the torture and humiliation he knew lay ahead.

The Bible reports something similar inMarkus 14:32, where that gospel also mentions that Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him “to a place called Gethsemane” where he prayed in deep distress, overwhelmed by what was to come.

What happened in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives?

The Gospels record that Jesus told his disciples to "sit here while I pray" (Markus 14:32). He acknowledged his sadness and asked her to remain vigilant, for "my soul is overcome with sorrow unto death" (14:34). He walked a little further away from them, dropped to his knees and called out to his father, God."'Abba, Father,' He said, 'You can do anything. Take this cup from me. Not what I want, but what you want'" (14:36). This was no random prayer - Jesus was desperate. The Gospel of Matthew tells us: "He fell face down" (Matthew 26:39) as he prayed with all his might.

Why is the Garden of Gethsemane so important to Jesus' life? (1)

He prayed through the night and regularly returned to his disciples to find them asleep. The Gospels tell of Jesus chastising them for their weakness and inability to keep watch in this time of great need, a time when He prayed so earnestly that the Gospel of Luke says, "His sweat was like drops of blood falling on the earth fell” (22:44 ). However, when he returned the third time to rouse his friends, Jesus seemed determined, ready to face the path his Father had laid out for him. "Are you still sleeping and resting?" Jesus asked. "Enough! The hour has come. Behold, the Son of man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Arise! Let us go! Here comes My betrayer!" (Markus 14:41-42).

At that moment Judas, one of Jesus' twelve disciples, arrived with a large crowd armed with swords and clubs. With a kiss Judas betrayed Jesus, and the Son of God was caught and arrested (Markus 14:43-46). One of Jesus' disciples - John says it is Peter - tries to defend Jesus by drawing his sword and cutting off the ear of Malchus, the high priest's servant (Johannes 18:10). But after His night's agony of grief and prayer, Jesus knew what had to happen. He would have no violence or resistance. "Jesus answered, 'No more of that!' And he touched the man's ear and healed him" (Lukas 22:51). Then He willingly went with the crowd. Then, as Jesus had foretold, "all the disciples deserted him and fled" (Matthew 26:56).

Later, after his death and resurrection, the book of Acts, also known as Acts of the Apostles, places Jesus back on the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12). The disciples asked Jesus if he would now restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus replied: “'It is not for you to know the times or dates which the Father has established by his own authority. But you will get electricity if theHoly Spiritcomes on you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.' After he had said this, he was lifted up from before their eyes, and a cloud hid him from their eyes.” (Acts 1:6-9).

As the disciples stood up and stared at the heavens where they last saw their Lord ascending, two angels appeared beside them, rebuking them for standing there staring at the heavens and letting them know that Jesus was coming back in the same way would like her seen him go. Then the disciples made their way back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, ready to do the work that Jesus had planned for them (1:10-12).

Why is the Garden of Gethsemane important?

Not only was the garden an important place, especially for Jesus as a place where he sought much-needed comfort and comfort from his Father in a time of pain and sorrow, and the place where he was betrayed and arrested, but also serves as a framework for important teachings on key concepts that are critical to Christians today. First, Jesus is shown to us as the true “Word made flesh” (Johannes 1:14), the incarnate Son of the Lord God, born of a virgin and named Immanuel – God with us (Isaiah 7:14). This means that although Jesus was very divine, he also fully participated in human existence. There in the Garden of Gethsemane he felt sorrow and great sorrow at the hardships he had to endure. He sought the quiet and seclusion of this special place so that he could go before God and ask for a respite—but not a respite from the will of God to which Jesus was committed.

Then, when his closest friends, whom he had begged to stay awake and keep watch, could not do even that for him, Jesus responded with what could be interpreted as impatience, disgust, or scolding. Like us, he probably felt the pangs of alienation, isolation, and betrayal. "'Couldn't you men keep watch over me an hour?' he asked Peter" (Matthew 26:40b). Second, Jesus' references to the coming sacrifice and pain by referring to them as "this cup" (Matthew 26:39, 42,Markus 14:36,Lukas 22:42) are believed to be a reference to the chalice of “the blood of the covenant” (Matthew 36:27-29). This blood is Jesus' blood (Markus 14:23-24) that He said at the Last Supper was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. There with His disciples at their last great gathering before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus not only shared a holy meal with His closest friends. Rather, He told them what would happen: He would be a living sacrifice offered as payment for the sins of all mankind. He revealed that He would be betrayed by one of them, indeed all the disciples would scatter, and even Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed the next morning (Matthew 26:34).

Third, Jesus' nonviolent response when the armed and angry mob came to arrest him underscores the message of peace and love that he spent much of his time on earth teaching to his followers. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus offered wisdom such as turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-39), loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us (5:44), giving to those in need (6:1-4), serving God and not money or other temporary things of the earth (6:19- 24), etc. He illustrated this message in the last moments in the Garden when confronted with His arrest, both sides wielding swords.

"'Put your sword back in its place,' Jesus said to him, 'for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I can't call my father and he will immediately provide me with more than twelve legions of angels? But then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must be so?'" (Matthew 26:52-54). The will of the Father would be done anyway, Jesus said, and there was no point in resisting or causing more bloodshed. Finally, Jesus' encouragement to the disciples to stay awake and keep vigil in the garden helps us to remember what he expects of us: to be on guard, not to succumb to temptation, to make difficulties for ourselves, which we would rather avoid by turning to Father and not to ourselves.

Even if they did not do what he asked, his pleas to them—and his example of what to do in times of need and anxiety—shed light on what we as Christians should do today. Today, the Garden of Gethsemane is a sacred place, a place of pilgrimage to which people flock today to wander among olive trees that are still growing, trying to locate the exact spot where Jesus fell to his knees or willingly surrendered to arrest and sacrifice presented. Whether they travel to the exact location or not, or just read about it, for many Christians, meditating on the Garden of Gethsemane and its significance to Jesus is a significant step in understanding the deeds, message, and will of Christ.

Credit: Unsplash/David Boca

Why is the Garden of Gethsemane so important to Jesus' life? (2)Jessica Brodyis an award-winning Christian writer, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach, and received the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her novels and read her faith blog atjessicabrodie.com. She has a weeklyYoutubealso devoted. You can also connect with herFacebook,Twitter, and more. She has also produced a free eBook,A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You're Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.

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