GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE
In his Gospel, Luke emphasises Jesus’ anguish (the Greek word he actually uses is agonia, from which we get our word ‘agony’) by reporting that ‘his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground’ (Luke 22:44)
Why did Jesus ask the disciples to stay awake with him? For support and companionship? To watch out for enemies? Was it because this was a time of “temptation” when the Devil tried to contradict the will of God – the disciples, too, had to struggle against this enemy? Perhaps it was all three! Unfortunately, on all counts, Jesus’ closest friends let him down. He was alone.
‘Gethsemane’ probably means ‘oil-press’, the place where olives where collected and pressed to extract their oil - an appropriate setting for Jesus’ tormented struggle to stay true to his Father’s will. Today pilgrims visit a cave on the hillside overlooking Jerusalem, which is said to be the original site of Jesus’s prayers in the garden.
Sometimes painters show a hand appearing from a cloud above a scene like this one in Gethsemane. The hand represents the presence of God.
Angels are meant to be God’s go-betweens – carrying messages from Earth to Heaven, and from Heaven to Earth! Most people know that angels appeared in the empty tomb after Jesus’ death, but angels were also in Gethsemane. They carried Jesus’ prayers to Heaven, but Luke’s Gospel also emphasizes that they bring assurance and strength down to Jesus from his Father in Heaven.