The world is crowded with Gethsemanes
The Garden of Gethsemane is not really a garden but an orchard. Olive trees still grow there today. During Jesus' day, it was a place of business, an oil press producing the local areas supply of olive oil.
Gethsemane, in its original context, meant oil press. A gat, a Hebrew word, is a press, a large 5-foot-high square stone pillar, and semane, is oil. So on the evening before His crucifixion, He went to the orchard of the Olive Press with Peter, James and John to pray.
If you lived in the first century and worked with a gethsemane, or oil press, your day would be spent gathering olives, placing them in a woven, fishnet-like bag and putting them on top of a stone table.
It is no mistake that Jesus spent His last evening in the Garden of Gethsemane. From there, he would leave to go to the Cross and receive the weight of the world. In a way, he was the gethsemane of our sins, blood crushed from His body running down the cross to the world below.
Luke describes the pressure Jesus suffered that evening: "Being in anguish, His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." (Luke 22:44)
It is an image of the gethsemane crushing the oil from the olive fruit.
The word gethsemane ever since has come to symbolize suffering. And, my friends, the world is crowded with suffering: Herods slaughtering the innocent. Look around in America: shooting at LAX; Moses Lake, Wash.; Jonesboro, Ark., Virginia Tech; Columbine; Newtown, Conn., Boston, Mass.
Even all around the world: mall shooting in Kenya, school shooting in Dunblane, Scotland. The world is full of gethsemanes, times when and times where the innocent have suffered.
In the face of such unspeakable horror we ask: who do we turn to?
What are we to do? The answer is obvious. We are to pray. When Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, He went there for one reason, to pray. "Why are you sleeping," Jesus asked the disciples. "Get up and pray!" Prayer prepares the soul for suffering. Jesus understood what lay ahead, and He knew that prayer was the only way to prepare them.
Prayer helps us cope with hardship, and it guides us away from temptation. Notice that Jesus told His disciples to pray so "you will not fall into temptation."
Continue to pray without ceasing and remember all paths that have been, or shall be, pass somewhere through gethsemane.
Rev. Ronald O. Green is a Victoria area minister.