He was in the center of what looked like a small courtyard. There were no colors other than sand, dust, and the red stains of His blood. Hostility loomed in the air. The soldiers and priests circled around him like vultures closing in on their prey. The crowds, just a short distance away, began to chant in an uproar of emotion. I quickly became aware that my focus was to be solely on Him even though there was such commotion all around. He was on His knees with a dirty cloth wrapped around His waist. His back was bare to receive the sting of the whip as it impacted a hard blow, piercing the skin barrier on his back and side. As each strong blow made its impact, His body jolted forward in excruciating pain.
He whispered, “I knew betrayal.”
Placed upon His head was a crown of thorns, twisted and sharp. The crown that pierced His head drew forth the color red. Suddenly, an another sting of the whip slashed His side, and I woke up, startled and in tears.
Salty water streamed down my face and onto my pillow like a trail of tears that came with understanding, but most of all love for the One that I had just seen. I could see and hear all that was taking place. My senses were consumed with reality. I was right there, looking in at the courtyard, and the only thing that mattered was the Man I was looking at.
In the account leading up to His crucifixion, we are given but a glimpse of what He endured. All along, Jesus knew that being betrayed, beaten, mocked, denied by His friend Peter, and crucified was a part of the chastisement that would bring peace for the ones He had just prayed for in the garden. Jesus came to earth and endured the agonies of Calvary instead of continuing in the joyous fellowship in His Father’s immediate presence. His sole desire was to do the Father’s will for the Ones they both loved. The Father’s will had always been love, for “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus laid down His life for you and for me.
Gifts in the Garden
Gifts are a gesture of good will expressed by offering something of value to an individual without any expectation of reciprocity. A gift is given to show someone that you care. My husband knows that I receive love when he spends time with me but he also knows that he can show love by surprising me with a gift. In contrast, he receives love by words I speak as affirmations that uplift and strengthen his spirit.
Gifts can be received or rejected.
Jesus gave us gifts in the Garden of Gethsemane on His way to the cross. The Garden of Gethsemane, near the foot of the Mount of Olives, is named in the New Testament as the place where Jesus went with His disciples the night before He was crucified. The garden was well known to the disciples as the natural route from the temple to the summit of the Mount of Olives and the ridge leading to Bethany.
The name Mount of Olives in Hebrew means “oil press,” which is fitting for what took place there in that garden on the night that He prayed in agony. Jesus told His disciples, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch” (Mark 14:34). Jesus went a little farther and fell to the ground as He prayed in the garden. He felt so much sorrow that He likened what He was feeling to that of death. Imagine the most sorrowful moment you’ve ever experienced and add a hundred or a thousand times more weight to that moment. He felt and knew sorrow.
Perhaps He didn’t want His closest friends to see the sorrow He was experiencing so He went away from them. He knew He would soon be betrayed, denied and crucified. Instead of being near his closest friends, He wanted to get alone with His Father, which He often did for times of prayer. Imagine for a moment, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives. He walks with heavy steps, collapsing under the weight of the world, falling to the ground to pray, knowing He is about to be crucified. Execution by crucifixion was the slowest and most humiliating of deaths. Men were flogged and then nailed naked upon a wooden cross in plain sight of the city walls. The term excruciating literally means “out of crucifying.” Crucifixion was truly an excruciating way to die. A most painful execution, victims were sometimes left on display after their deaths as a warning to others. Jesus hung on the cross for a total of about six hours before He gave up His Spirit.
The conversation that transpired in Gethsemane between God the Father and Jesus is a conversation I believe had already been settled in understanding in their hearts. Jesus prayed, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). In His human nature He asked for the cup to be passed from Him. The cup He referenced contained the beatings He was about to endure and being spit on, mocked, betrayed and crucified. He would even be denied by his friend Peter, the very one who had received revelation that Jesus was, in fact, The Son of God, The Christ. The very ones He came for were about to bring betrayal.
Jesus felt pressure, pain and suffering as He prayed in Gethsemane. He certainly had to have some understanding of the pain He would go through by crucifixion as evidenced by the weight of the prayers recorded: “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44).
The word “Gethsemane” is derived from two Hebrew words: gat, which means a place for pressing oil (or wine) and shemanim, which means oils. Just as heavy stone slabs were lowered onto olives that had already been smashed in an olive crusher in that day, Jesus was being crushed by the weight of the sins of the world pressing down upon Him. Gradually, the slab’s weight squeezed the olive oil out of the pulp, and the oil ran into a pit. There, the oil was collected in jars of clay. His Blood literally fell to the ground in Gethsemane, a place for pressing oil. It was as if the olive press, The Mount of Olives, was pressing Jesus with the weight of all of the sins humanity had ever committed or would ever be
Jesus’s first drops of blood recorded in scripture did not come from the whip held in the hands of those He came to save, but His blood fell to the ground and soaked into the soil as He cried and prayed for you and me, taking upon Himself every sin-the weight of the world.
And then, He carried it all to the cross.
©2018 Danielle Freitag, Excerpt from “The Garden Keys,” To be Released Summer of 2018
Jesus gave us the gift of “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” in the Garden of Gethsemane on His way to the cross.
Gifts can be received or rejected. We can respond to the Father’s good will for our lives, to act in love, forgiveness or healthier choices, or we can reject His leading. He gave us the gift of forgiveness, intercession, the example to pray for the ones who betray, as well as the gift of a life poured out for the sake of love. Jesus embodies the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, long-suffering and self-control.
Jesus is the perfect example of love.
He chose love.
He is love.
And because of Him, we too, can show love even during times of suffering, challenging choices or when betrayed.
“Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Luke 22:42
What can you say, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" to, today?