The Road to the Cross 04
The road to Calvary began, not at Pilate’s courtyard, but at a silent, holy place called Gethsemane. In Hebrew, the word itself means “olive press.” Gethsemane, as you would visit today in the Holy Land, is still an olive grove. Gnarled trees outline the area where Jesus went in His final hours before the cross to pray.
In His hour of greatest need, He prayed. “My soul is exceedingly troubled…” the Master said. So He took it to the Father in prayer. We must learn to do the same. When we are “pressed out of measure,” when we feel the stress and strain of everyday life, when we face the “dark night of the soul,” when we are in times of confusion… we pray.
A beloved song the church sang for decades was, “I come to the garden to pray… while the dew is still on the roses.” It paints an almost ethereal, pastoral scene with fragrant scents and dewdrop-kissed, flower pedals.
Hardly the picture painted by the Gospel witnesses, who describe a darker place… a place visited by our Savior in solitude because no companion could enter His suffering in that moment. No one knew how to pray for Jesus. There was no comfort in companionship.
There were drops, not of dew, but of blood on the ground because the struggle of Jesus’ soul against the enemy was so real… so violent, that He sweat “great drops of blood….;” a medical condition called hematidrosis.
He did not stroll casually through the dark garden sniffing the roses as He walked. He fell face first to the ground, as He wrestled with what each of us must one day deal with; the death of our flesh… our will and our final submission to the Father.
So as we mark the Easter journey of Jesus to the place of our redemption, remember it began at Gethsemane. In a garden.
And three days later, the journey would also end in a garden.
“Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”