Hey guys, so, if you’ve read the gospels you know that Jesus Christ really liked teaching people through parables. Sometimes the meaning of Christ’s parables was not immediately clear to people. Sometimes it took some effort to understand and to extract the message. In a lot of what Christ said and did there were multiple layers of meaning. In this episode, we’re going to talk about another scenario where I think Christ was trying to teach us something that at first glance might be really easy to miss.
Alright, after the last supper, Christ left Jerusalem with Peter, James, and John. They crossed a little brook called Kidron and entered a garden called Gethsemane. The booklet “True to the Faith” teaches, “Jesus’s atoning sacrifice took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. In Gethsemane, He submitted to the will of the Father and began to take upon Himself the sins of all people …. The Savior continued to suffer for our sins when He allowed Himself to be crucified—’lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world’ (1 Nephi 11:33)”.
Now, Latter-day Saints are not the only Christians who believe that Christ suffered for our sins partially in Gethsemane, but it is a somewhat controversial subject. We’re not really going to get into it today, but know that our discussion about Gethsemane today is not at all intended to detract from the massively important events of Calvary.
So, Matthew records that once in the garden of Gethsemane, Christ “began to be sorrowful and very heavy.” He withdrew some distance from the disciples, and Luke records that he began to pray, “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Mosiah 3:7 in the Book of Mormon describes Christ’s suffering in less ambiguous terms: “behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.”
Now, let’s take a few steps back. Before Christ enters Gethsemane, He’s fully aware of what is about to happen. At the last supper He’s prophesying about Judas’s imminent betrayal, Peter’s triple-denial, He even says the next time He drinks of the fruit of the vine will be in the kingdom of God. He knows his suffering is about to begin, and intentionally chooses Gethsemane as the setting. Why Gethsemane?
The word “Gethsemane” means “oil press”. Gethsemane was at the base of the Mount of Olives, and it was filled with olive trees. In Christ’s day, to extract olive oil, they would pluck the olives, and then crush them to a pulp using these giant millstones. Then, they’d take the pulp and once again apply huge amounts of pressure to the pulp, which would squeeze out the oil. Now, the olive oil we’re used to that you get from the grocery store takes on a nice yellow-golden color. But in its rawest form olive oil is brownish-red. It looks almost disturbingly similar to blood.
In Gethsemane, the immense weight of the sins of mankind came crushing down upon Christ, extracting blood from every pore like oil from an olive.
BYU professor Taylor Halverson pointed out that understanding this symbolism highlights the significance of using consecrated olive oil in some Latter-day Saint priesthood blessings.
And interestingly as Daniel Smith points out on his excellent channel, Messages of Christ, olive oil was used in Christ’s day to make healing ointments. It was also an ingredient in common foods, like bread. Christ taught, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger.” The olive branch is a symbol of peace. Christ is the Prince of Peace. In Christ’s parable of the ten virgins, it was the olive oil in the lamps of the 5 wise virgins that allowed them to be prepared for the coming of the bridegroom.
It may also be significant to note the proximity of the Kidron brook to the garden. Taylor Halverson noted that “This brook helped wash away the blood of sacrificial animals from the temple (one of the drains from the temple may have run down to this spot). Jesus, as the true sacrificial lamb, may have had some of His blood washed away at the Kidron brook near the Garden of Gethsemane.”
The things Jesus Christ does in scripture are just packed with meaning. Take the time to dive into this stuff and let Christ be that healing ointment, that daily nourishment, that bringer of peace in your life. Check out the resources in the YouTube description if you want to learn more about this subject, watch some of our other videos while you’re here, and have a great day.
- “Holy Week: Gethsemane” by Daniel Smith at Messages of Christ (go subscribe to this channel, goshdangit): https://bit.ly/3mPSdqm
- “Gethsemane is the Oil Press Where Jesus Pressed Out the Blood of His Atonement” by Taylor Halverson: https://bit.ly/2ZYeFoc
- A quick rundown about olive tree horticulture from BYUI professor Bruce Satterfield (with excellent pictures): https://bit.ly/2ZWiY34
- For some examples of other Christians who believe Christ’s payment for sin started in Gethsemane, see quotes from this source: https://bit.ly/3kaUWZr