“After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.” John 18:1-3
Jesus had been there before. Many times in fact. I made this same journey but in reverse this summer. Walking from the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives to the Upper Room. In this instance, Jesus makes the same journey.
This was an area in which he was largely familiar. It was all within a few miles of one another. He would leave the Upper Room, by the City of David, exit the Eastern Gate and go down the Kidron Valley, and up to the Mount of Olives or what the writer John calls “the olive grove.” He knew this area. It wasn’t his home but one he had visited often and stayed near in Bethany many times.
And a people who should have received him were rejecting him. They were coming with blazing torches, lanterns and weapons to seize Jesus. He who had brought a rebellion of love, fought a war on grace and offered a gift of eternal life was being confronted with a contingent of Roman Soldiers, temple guards, weapons and touches.
What was going through Jesus’ mind at this moment? He knew the end was near. What did he think of a people who chose evil over righteousness? What did Jesus feel when saw his creation rebelling against him, ready to arrest him and take him to his death? Jesus knew this must happen. He was to become the sacrificial lamb of God slain for these very sins. It is tragic yet beautiful.
And it all happened in an olive grove called Gethsemane meaning “oil press.” Jesus would be pressed for our sins and bruised for our iniquities so sin might be defeated and life would be available for all who believe.
“O Lord, these aren’t imaginary locations, made up places, make-believe lands. These places are real, the geography supports biblical history. Come now, Holy Spirit, and heal our land. Just as you’ve been saving souls for thousands of years, so redeem us again today. Bring revival upon our nation and world. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen