Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane and he told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Matthew 26:36 NIV
One of the things I love to do in spring is to plant new flowers and mow the grass. As I mow, I watch as the mower clips away the dead thatch from winter and allows the new sprigs of green grass to break through. Being outdoors gives me a sense of being close to my Creator. As I look around and take in the new greenery that emerges in spring, I am reminded how our lives ebb and flow with the seasons. Thousands of years ago one man named Jesus sensed a change coming with the emergence of spring. He knew that His time on earth was coming to an end.
The city of Jerusalem where Jesus spent his final days was full of scenery. If you’ve ever visited Jerusalem or the areas around the city, they are seemingly impassible with rocky terrain and buildings crowded together. But if we go back and picture the scene thousands of years ago, the landscape would have looked differently. The walls around the city were present at that time, but there would have been more areas of green lush landscaping amidst the harsh mountainous terrain. As Jesus prepared to be taken into custody before his crucifixion, he chose not to run and hide, (as most of us would have done), but instead went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Previously, when I pictured the Garden of Gethsemane, I pictured something that looked like the Garden of Eden because that’s the kind of Garden I pictured the Son of God praying in. As I studied the pictures and read about the type of garden the Garden of Gethsemane was, I realized it wasn’t like the typical garden I had always pictured.
The Garden of Gethsemane was rocky like the surrounding terrain. There were probably areas of grass to lie on and I’m sure there were bunches of flowers scattered throughout the garden. What is unique about this particular garden is the outcropping of olive trees. Olive trees are certainly not unique to the area, but what I find special about the place where Jesus chose to talk to God, is the symbolic nature of the garden. Jesus chose this garden, I believe, because of the olive trees and because an olive branch symbolizes Peace. In the book of Genesis, Noah sent a dove to find land after being in the ark for 40 days. The dove brought back an olive branch as a sign that the flood was over and peace was coming. God sent Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to earth as a sign that peace was coming. He is our olive branch. The gift God gives through His Son Jesus is the gift of eternal life.
What better place for Jesus to choose to pray and feel the peace and presence of God than to be surrounded by a grove of olive trees? You or I might have chosen tulips or daisies to be surrounded by in our final days, but Jesus knew that His purpose was to bring about peace, so He prayed in the place where He might be reminded of His purpose. I know Jesus was probably in complete and total agony over what was about to happen. He even asked God if there was another way. But in the end, we know that Jesus was obedient and submitted to God’s will, He became our olive branch and because of that, we have the promise of hope in eternity with God.
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Action Item |
I don’t know if you enjoy gardening as I do. But if you have a moment this spring, go and look around you at the wonder that is our world. Marvel at God’s creation and thank Him for the Prince of Peace who came to save us.
Heavenly Father, I am at awe of Your creation and the changing seasons. I am overwhelmed by the generous gift of Your Son Jesus. Thank You God for Your Grace by extending your Son to us as Your promise of hope that we might live eternally with You forever. Amen.
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