Monuments & Moments – Day 4 – The Garden (Part 1)
Gaining a New Perspective (by Jessica Stallbaum)
Early in the morning, we were driven to the very top of the Mount of Olives. The view was breathtaking. From that elevation, we could see so many of the places we had recently visited on our sojourn across Israel. The Dome of the Rock with its multimillion dollar gold overlay was glistening in the sun in the distance whereas, in contrast, in the foreground, there were thousands of tombs filled with faithful Jews waiting for the Messiah to come- for the first time- with their feet pointed toward the Temple Mount.
From there, we started walking on a well-worn path down the mountain, a steep descent of about 400 feet over the course of a half mile. Toward the bottom of the path is a garden belonging to the Church of All Nations. This site is believed to be the site of THE Garden of Gethsemane. The ancient olive trees that stand there today are only 500 years old, but they do the job of creating the intended atmosphere. It’s surreal. We were given 30 minutes to sit in the garden and process where we were, what had happened here, and what was to happen next after Jesus left this garden 2,000 years ago. I pulled up Luke 22 on my YouVersion Bible app and found that the only version I had downloaded was the Message version. This wouldn’t have been the version that I would have chosen to read on this occasion, but I soon found out that it was exactly what God purposed for me to read.
A Close-Up of the Dome of the Rock
An Ancient Olive Tree in the Garden
The View from the Top of the Mount of Olives with Graves in the Foreground and the Dome on the Right in the Distance
“Leaving there (the Last Supper), He went, as He so often did, to Mount Olives. [Wow! I am HERE on that Mount.] The disciples followed Him. When they arrived at the place, He said, 'Pray that you don’t give in to temptation.' The disciples followed Him. When they arrived at the place, He said, “Pray that you don’t give in to temptation.” Luke 22:39-40 MSG
I always thought Jesus was referring to the temptation to sleep after a big dinner (the Last Supper), but having read the entirety of Luke 22 in the garden, I realized that Jesus must have also meant the temptation to be concerned about what He had just shared with them at the Last Supper. He had talked of His suffering to come and about the fact that someone sitting at that table was going to betray Him which led them to question among themselves who this traitor was going to be. He told them they were going to need to trade a cloak for a sword, so I’m sure they were starting to worry about an impending battle.
When I read all of that, I realized that Jesus was telling them to pray so that they didn’t give in to temptation to WORRY, FEAR or QUESTION their future. Jesus told them to pray so that their minds would be forced to focus on their Heavenly Father and His peace. He desired for them to pray because He knew that prayer also releases heavenly help.
“Jesus pulled away from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, 'Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?' At ONCE, an angel from heaven was at His side, strengthening Him.” Luke 22:41-44
What emotions are tempting you to take your eyes off of Jesus right now? (i.e. fear, worry, doubt, anxiety about your future)
What is one thing about your day today that you can give to God in prayer?
Please, God, not what I want. What do You want for me today?
The supernatural strength that we need on a daily basis comes (instantly) when we submit ourselves, our agendas, and our desires to His will.
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