If ever there was a moment that Yeshua was fully in touch with His human flesh, it was in the hours before His death, in the Garden of Gethsemane. Without a doubt, Yeshua was fully God, but He also chose to be fully man.
…though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)
Yeshua “emptied Himself”—the darling of heaven, beloved of His father, out of love for you, took on “the form of a servant.”
In Hebrew, Gethsemane is two words: Gat–Shmanim or oil press. If you go to the Garden of Gethsemane, you will see it is not a garden at all—at least, not in the sense of flowers and plants. It is an olive grove. Back then, olives would be used for many things: food, oil for lamps, seasoning food, even soap (more on this later) and so much more. One very important use of olive oil, as we see so many times in the Bible, was to anoint people for spiritual functions as a sign of being spirit empowered…
Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. (1 Sam. 16:13)
The olive was utterly used—nothing went to waste. Also with Yeshua, He poured out His flesh and His blood, and gave all of Himself for us. Luke tells is that this was His place to meditate. He conveys to us, it was “His custom” to go to the Mount of Olives. He identified with the plight of the precious olive. He, too, would Himself be emptied completely.
Here, in this olive grove, He was pressed. An olive goes through three different pressings before it is just the residue of the once oil-filled fruit. Yeshua, too, is pressed three times (Matt. 27:39, 42, 44) in the garden, even as His tired disciples slept. In His weakest moment, as the Father was leaving Him to fulfill His task, he looked to His friends for comfort.
“My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”
I find that so dear; I imagine Yeshua reaching out to me (or you) and saying, “Ron, I am about to pass through the most horrific thing of my existence. Will you spend some time with me?” Oh, what a holy invitation. But the disciples did not discern the time. I can only imagine the guilt they felt later on.
An Angel Comes
Few people point out a powerful event that we see in Luke’s account.
“And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” (Luke 22:43)
Twice in Yeshua’s life, He is tempted. In Matthew chapter four, toward the end of His fast, (that is the one we talk about) and now again, just before He will be crucified and take on the sins of the world. Many don’t realize that this temptation before His ultimate act of love and sacrifice, was far more severe. But both times, angels come to His aid. In v. 11 it says, “Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”
It reminds me of the old footprints story. There was only one set of footprints in the sand during your darkest time, because that was when He was carrying you. This tells me that, we too, when tempted, are not alone. God will send angels, whether you see them or not, to give you strength. When Elijah was running from Jezebel and his tank was on empty, the angel of the Lord visited him. He gave Him food and then he touched Him, giving him strength for 40 days and 40 nights.
When you are going through your most difficult time, our loving God will send angels to help, bless and strengthen you.
Drops of Blood
But Yeshua was still in agony. Never before had He so identified with the weakness of human flesh. To be our Savior, He had to be one of us. He can identify with us, Hebrews 4:15 tells us, because he was tempted like we are. We struggle with the idea of Yeshua asking God to get Him out of his plight.
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
But it was not just some theatrics to fulfill a prophecy—he felt it.
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. (Heb. 5:7)
Yes, His agony was so intense that His sweat was like drops of blood. My friend tells a story of being in the Garden of Gethsemane as a young believer. He was there meditating on the temptation of Yeshua. He held in his hand a ripe olive. As he thought about Yeshua, his grip on the olive intensified until the juicy olive burst, sending olive juice all of over his hand—and they appeared like drops of blood. The dark olive was so ripe that its juice was red, like blood.
Pressure brought forth the blood with my friend, and as Yeshua accepted His role, under the intense pressure of his spiritual olive press, blood came forth—the same blood that would later, on that day, become “the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” (Heb. 5:9).
I shared earlier that the olive would pass through three pressings before it would just be a mass of pulverized mush.
The first pressing extracted the purest oil which was used for healing and anointing ceremonies in the temple.
The oil from the second pressing was used for nourishment and cooking.
The third pressing brought forth oil for light and illumination and was used in lamps. (From the Biblical Resources Institute in Jerusalem.)
So much biblical application in that! He heals and anoints us, He sustains us, and He gives us light and even makes us light.
But what good could come from that waste? I am sure some looked at the naked, bloodied and beaten mess of Yeshua’s human body and thought, what a waste. He could heal the sick, but cannot defeat the cross. Indeed, the scribes and elders fulfilled Yeshua’s prophecy (Luke 4:23):
“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him.” (Matt. 27:42-43)
The dregs of the olives that appeared useless have one more task—the fourth and final pressing is used to make soap, cleansing the body. Yeshua is pressed one more time on the cross. The enemy thought he had won. But in that fourth and final press, He becomes that source of eternal purity, that fountain of cleansing (Zech. 13:1).
Yes, there was a reason why Yeshua chose the olive grove called “oil press” on the Mount of Olives, to spend His final moments of freedom and mediation. And it will be to this same mountain that He will return (Zech. 14:3-4), not with a crown of thorns, but rather, a shining golden crown (Rev. 14:14). He will pass through the garden on His way to Jerusalem, where He “will be king over all the earth.” (Zech. 14:9)