On the night he was betrayed, following Judas’ departure from the upper room where Jesus and his disciples ate the Passover meal, Jesus took the remaining eleven to the olive grove known as the Garden of Gethsemane across the Kidron Valley.
Having spent the last three years as a disciple, Judas knew Jesus often went to this garden to pray. So it is no surprise this is where Judas chose to betray Christ with a kiss of friendship.
It is here Jesus pulled three of his closest disciples aside to an inner section away from the other eight. It is here Christ told Peter, James, and John his soul was crushed with grief to the point of death.
Before the beginning of time, Christ knew what Judas and the High Priest plotted. He knew the exact moment the betrayer would arrive with armed guards to arrest him on false charges. He knew the horror the rapidly approaching hours held.
Until I read a devotion in Lysa TerKuerst’s book, Embraced, I’d never thought much about the significance of Jesus praying in an olive grove. In this devotion she explains the crushing process olives go through to produce olive oil.
The crushing times she calls it.
- Lysa says the crushing times are necessary times. In order to be fruitful the olive tree has to have both the dry hot east wind and the wet Mediterranean west wind.
- The crushing times are processing times. In order for the bitter olive to be edible, it goes through a lengthy process. It is washed, broken, soaked, and sometimes salted.
- The crushing times are preservation times. The best way to preserve the olive is to crush it in order to extract the oil. It has to be pressed. Hard.
- Crushing is not the end. Instead, crushing preserves the olive.
Jesus said his soul was crushed with grief to the point of death. His suffering was for our benefit. He could have called tens of thousands of angels to deliver him. He could have told God he wouldn’t suffer for humankind’s sins to bring those who believe in him salvation. He could have stopped Judas from kissing his cheek.
Jesus could have done a whole bunch of other things to prevent his crushing time, but he didn’t.
On the night he was betrayed and throughout the next day, Christ went through the horrific effects of accepting the Father’s will of the cross to bring salvation to lost sinners. He took the bitter sting of death upon himself. He paid the debt we owed but could never pay, making a way to preserve us.
Like the olive, we may go through our own crushing time where we feel beat up by the dry hot east wind and soaked by the wet Mediterranean west wind. We may feel crushed beyond anything we can bear. Our life circumstances might be washing and breaking us to the point we feel like there is no hope.
When we experience these very difficult times, let’s remember on the night he was betrayed, Jesus endured unbearable sorrow in a grove of olives where his soul was crushed with grief to the point of death.
All because he wanted to make a way to preserve us for a life with him in eternity.
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They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Mark 14:32-34 (NLT)
I wish you well.
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