Gethsemane: The Neglected Garden
This is a brief message I wrote in the church bulletin in 1986 just months before we walked away from official ministry. It will help you understand what God has been doing these many years in our lives and why we speak and write as we do. The word “Gethsemane” means “oil press” and speaks of the crushing of olives to make the oil. It is where Jesus went before He was arrested and taken into custody. There He was crushed and made ready for the cross.
Just before His arrest and His trip to the Garden of Gethsemane some Greek people came to the disciples asking to see Jesus. Here is the account from the God’s word:
Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:20–26).
These Greeks wanted to see Jesus but they had no idea what seeing Him would mean. Like us, they wanted to see Jesus out of curiosity but had no idea how He would change their lives. They didn’t know that His next venture would be to the Garden of Gethsemane where His soul would be crushed and readied for crucifixion.
These Greeks didn’t know that this garden was a place where our souls will be put under the oil press of Gethsemane and sacrificed for the sake of Jesus and His church.
Like these Greeks who said, “We wish to see Jesus” we give mental assent to this principle and with lip service we imagine ourselves at this place of ultimate sacrifice. Like Peter we declare our naïve readiness to follow Him wherever He goes, but then comes Gethsemane. Then comes the burning fire of God’s holy presence. Then comes the sifting of our lives and the purging of the threshing floor of our souls. Then comes the stark reality: If we would see Jesus, we must be willing to lose all that we possess, all that we are. It is a devastating reality. Life follows death. Easter morning follows Gethsemane and the grave.
My precious brothers and sisters, this is not an easy message. It is a hard message to receive and a harder message to preach. It is a message that costs much. It has cost me my life as I know it and may have cost me my ministry as I perceive it. It will cost you deeply, my beloved brethren, but never forget that joy cometh in the morning.
Can you still shout Hosanna, knowing that the rider of the donkey’s colt rides to a place of death and beckons you to follow? Can you still say, “I wish to see Jesus” knowing that He will send a message to your heart of self-denial and death to your selfish dreams? Can you still answer His call to follow Him knowing that He goes where your soul-life cannot go? I pray that you can, but I know in my heart that few will rise to the occasion.
Jesus, “. . . for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross. . .” (Heb. 12:8). For the joy of resurrection morning Jesus endured Gethsemane and the cross. This is God’s call to the church of 1986. Consider the joy of resurrection life that awaits your obedience to His gentle command: “Follow Me!”