From the Garden: Israel Travel Journal

Garden of Gethsemane, Israel

Garden of Gethsemane, Israel

“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” - Matthew 26:36-39

One of the most impactful places we traveled to was the Garden of Gethsemane. It was here in the Garden that Jesus chose sacrifice and chose to give himself up to die for our sins. As I sat in the very garden that Jesus walked in, I couldn’t help but feel His presence.

I love the symbolism of this place. The Garden of Gethsemane is full of olive trees that would be harvested to produce olive oil. The trees are hundreds and thousands of years old, yet they still produce fruit. I learned the process of producing olive oil, how the olives have to be crushed and pressed to produce the oil. The oil is often used for anointing, but without the pressing and crushing there would be no oil. Jesus chose that Garden for a purpose. It was a place he often went to pray and on the night that he would be arrested he chose to pray in that Garden.

It’s where he would plead and beg God for another way. He knew that he was not only about to experience the most excruciating form of execution in history, but he would also be taking on the wrath of God by becoming sin in order to save us from our sin. He would have to be crushed and pressed much like the olives in order to become the sacrifice needed to wipe away the sin of the world.

As I sat there surrounded by the trees and wind blowing while the sun was shining down, I remembered what happened at the beginning of time in another Garden. It was in the Garden of Eden that Eve caused the fall of humanity. It was a moment of selfish decision making in an attempt to be more like God that would cause the fall of all humanity. But I love that God used another Garden to make a very different choice, one of redemption. Jesus made the most selfless decision in the Garden of Gethsemane to save all of humanity.

We see in scripture that it was prophesied that another “Adam” would come to save the world (1 Corinthians 15:45). How incredible the symbolism between these two gardens. God always has a redemption plan. The best part of it all is that he chose to die on the cross for us while we were still sinning. That means we don’t have to be perfect to come to Him, we get to come to Him because of the sacrifice He made. So, as you celebrate the risen Savior this Easter, know that you are loved and you are forgiven!

If you ever get the chance to visit Israel, it’s worth it to spend time in the Garden of Gethsemane. We went into a private area where we were able to spend more time in the garden without interruption. It's a moment I’ll never forget.