If you visit the village of Capernaum beside the Sea of Galilee, you will find an exhibit of ancient olive presses. Formed from basalt rock, the olive press consists of two parts: a base and a grinding wheel. The base is large, round, and has a trough carved out of it. The olives were placed in this trough, and then the wheel, also made from heavy stone, was rolled over the olives to extract the oil.
On the night before His death, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives overlooking the city of Jerusalem. There, in the garden called Gethsemane, He prayed to the Father, knowing what lay ahead of Him.
The word Gethsemane means “place of the olive press”—and that perfectly describes those first crushing hours of Christ’s suffering on our behalf. There, “in anguish, he prayed . . . and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
Father, help me understand what Your Son endured for me. Help me appreciate the depths of love that would allow my Lord and Christ to be crushed for my wrongs and my rescue.
Gone my transgressions, and now I am free—all because Jesus was wounded for me. W. G. Ovens
On the night Jesus was betrayed, He took His disciples to a familiar quiet place to pray. Gethsemane was just east of Jerusalem beyond the Kidron Valley near the Mount of Olives (Matt. 26:36; Mark 14:32; John 18:1). One of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, was conspiring to have Jesus killed. It’s in this context that the prayer in today’s reading was uttered. But these words aren’t the sum total of Jesus’s prayer that night. John’s gospel tells us that He also prayed for His disciples and for those of us who will believe in Him through their message (John 17:16–25).