On a recent trip to Israel, I had the opportunity to visit the Garden of Gethsemane. It is a quiet, peaceful place, in stark contrast to the crowded streets of Jerusalem. The Garden is situated at the foot of the Mount of Olives, across from the city of Jerusalem, and up from the Kidron Valley. It’s no wonder Jesus often came to this hillside grove to pray to his Father. Remarkably, some of the old gnarled olive trees have stood there since Jesus’ day—and still bear fruit!
It was in this garden that Jesus brought Peter, James, and John on the night before he was betrayed.
“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22: 39-46)
In the final moments before his betrayal and arrest, Jesus sought the Father in prayer. As was his habit, he went to the Mount of Olives to pray, specifically to the Garden of Gethsemane. He brought his closest disciples with him, needing their community and support. Jesus asked them to pray so they would stay awake and alert and be there for him. Then he went to be by himself and cried out in prayer to his Father. Hebrews tells us, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” (Hebrews 5:7). “In the days of his flesh” references all of his days on earth, including this moment of anguish in the Garden...
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