Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane… And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.
Friend to Friend
My husband and I just returned home from our first trip to Israel. I’ve heard for years that a pilgrimage to the Holy Land will change a believer’s life, that the Bible goes from black and white to technicolor! It’s all true. When you walk where Jesus walked, and read the words that The Word spoke in those places, with the rocks all testifying beneath your feet, your faith grows too big to stay on the inside and slips down your checks in the form of awestruck tears.
My favorite day was the one when we drove into Jerusalem, eager to place our feet where our Savior’s feet had trod. Anxious to inhale the scent of the earth that He first made and then walked upon, wept upon. Driving into Jerusalem, our guide explained that 85 percent of all Biblical events happened along the same road we now took. This road is referred to as “the watershed” of Israel, because the rain from the mountains collects in the valleys, carving a lush pathway through desert country all the way to Mount Moriah, Mount Zion, and Hebron — flowing down into Jerusalem and Bethlehem and on to Beersheba, where Abraham’s well still runs deep. The watershed.
As we walked down the Mount of Olives, my personal watershed started to flow. Descending the small hill covered in an ancient grove of olive trees, we made our way to the garden, known then and now as The Garden of Gethsemane. Lush, watered by the watershed — where The Living Water wept.
Inhaling deeply, earth particles filled my lungs — pollen and dust flowed in with oxygen. Walking through the garden, long branches brushed my shoulders, and I exhaled carbon dioxide — my offering back to the garden trees. They drank it from me, those ancient gnarled trunks and delicate slender leaves, with olives growing in small clusters upon each bough. Leaves moved silently in the breeze for just a moment before turning my gift to oxygen again. They exhaled, and immediately my lungs expanded from the grace offering once more.
Back and forth, for centuries, since the beginning of the beginning, this cycle of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide has continued. Humanity’s co-dependent dance with creation, testifying to our intelligent Creator.
That’s when I thought of the recycled elements, moving back and forth for centuries; between mankind and this garden grove — this grove and mankind — mankind and these trees — and the God-man’s lungs as Jesus inhaled and exhaled on the night He was betrayed. Today was my turn in the garden, to inhale His exhalation, through this ancient garden ritual.
It’s poetic more than realistic, I know, but the imagery blesses me still. How the air in me had once been the air in Him. And when He gave up His air and gave up His Spirit, His Spirit filled me too.
Overcome by His sacrifice, I slipped off my sandals and stood there on Holy ground.
Without sin of His own, He took the full press of my sin. The Garden of Gethsemane is “The Garden of the Oil Press.” Gethsemane translates oil press. That’s where Jesus went to pray as the weight of our sins began to press heavily upon Him. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be completely crushed for our iniquities. This was the spot where the crushing began.
Instead of oil, however, He gave up tears in the garden of the oil press. Instead of being crushed to death, He was crushed to life eternal. Instead of anointing oil, He released a watershed of anointed, cleansing blood — that a current of forgiveness could flow from Jerusalem out into the whole world. The watershed.
Oh Jesus, thank You for putting Your breath in my lungs, and Your Spirit in my spirit, and faith to believe You in my heart. Thank You for submitting to the press, to the point of death, that I might know eternal life with You in the garden of Your eternal Kingdom. Whether I walk where You walked here on earth or not, thank You for walking where I am today, through the presence of Your Holy Spirit. May I daily remember to slip off my sandals and lift my hands in praise, for this too is Holy ground!
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Sweet girlfriends, if you have ever dreamed of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, now is your chance! Your Girlfriends in God team will be leading a trip to Israel in March 2019! Find our details right here, then grab some of your personal girlfriends to join you on this life changing adventure!
More from the Girlfriends
Wendy Speake is co-author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. On a daily basis you can find her sharing God’s Word along with personal stories of faith on Facebook (whether in the Holy Land or simply doing the Holy Work of raising children.)