The Testimony of Gethsemane - Part 2
What I learned about the Mount of Olives being a symbol of division seems to focus upon the olive press place - Gethsemane. If you would, please take this opportunity to familiarize yourselves with the following gospel accounts: Matthew 26:30-56, Mark 14:26-52, Luke 22:39-54 and John 18:1-12.
Just prior to our Lord's betrayal and arrest, he had gone to Gethsemane to pray, taking his disciples with him but keeping some distance between them. Then, Y'shua was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and arrested in the garden. He was taken away for trial and execution. Let's start with Matthew's account.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."
The word "Gethsemane" means "oil-press place." It was an olive grove on the Mount of Olives with a name that suggests a place where the olives are processed into oil. Oil is a symbol both of the spirit and of understanding. In order to bring forth the liquid (oil) from the olive, an oil press causes great pressure on it. Jesus is the olive root according to Romans 11:16, supporting every olive branch and therefore every olive in the tree. Did he experience pressure in that place? Indeed he did!. The tremendous pressure upon him can be seen to bring forth liquid in Luke 22.
And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
The external fluid came forth like the internal fluid. Gethsemane indeed!
I have noted a number of significant instances of separating in the account. First, we see our Lord separating himself, Peter, James and John from the other disciples and then further separating himself from those aforementioned three. (Matthew 26 and Mark 14) This curious matter is what initially arrested my attention when the Lord was opening to me the association between the Mount of Olives and the meaning of division. Y'shua made a point of telling them to stay where they were, insuring that they would remain as he had separated them. Later in the account, Judas singled Y'shua out by betraying him with a kiss. He distinguished very particularly in this manner, separating him from the others present. Strange, isn't it? As if they wouldn't have been able to recognize him on their own. I believe part of the reason this was noted in the account is because of the primacy of the division theme. It is interesting that the agreed upon sign of betrayal was a kiss, an act of the parting of the lips. At the scene of the arrest, one of the disciples separated a man's ear from his head. In the account given in the gospel of John, the names are given and may therefore be seen as important to know. Simon Peter ("Simon" means "hearing") used one of the two (the number two signifies division) swords to separate the servant (whose name "Malchus" means "kingly") of the high priest's right ear from his head. Note that the cutting off of an ear impairs the ability to hear, and that the ear's healing restores the hearing. In the time of antitypical fulfillment, the "kingly" of the "High Priest's servants" whose hearing has been impaired will receive ears to hear because of the use of the "sword" given "Simon Peter" to wield. After Y'shua was arrested, they took him away, separating him from his disciples who themselves were scattered, causing a complete separation among them. Like the mention of the names in the above account, another feature unique to John's record is the recording of a very strange event that dramatically emphasizes the number two (division , separation) by way of repetition.
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, "Who is it you want?" 5) "Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "I am he," Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6) When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. 7) Again he asked them, "Who is it you want?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." 8) "I told you that I am he," Jesus answered. "If you are looking for me, then let these men go."
The point was made in the narrative of the above passage that Judas the traitor was standing there with them, together with them, not with Y'shua but separated from him. When Y'shua had spoken and we are told they drew back, we should note that the separation between them increased. Now, I'm not sure I understand the full import of their drawing back and falling to the ground, but realizing the theme of division and its contrast with that of unity, it would seem that their response to our Lord's powerful statement of unity, "I am he" (or, I AM) must somehow be related to that profession. Compare this with Zechariah 14's account of our Lord's bodily physical re-uniting with the mount and its similarly dramatic effects. The above passage closes with Y'shua's entreaty to allow his disciples to be separated from them, which, of course, happens.
Another curious separation event occurred at the scene of the arrest, this one unique to Mark's account.
A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following jesus. When they seized him, 52) he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
This young man was separated from his linen garment on the Mount of Olives. The following declaration made previously in Mark gives insight into the matter.
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35) For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36) What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37) Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38) If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."
A linen garment represents righteousness, (or righteous acts - Revelation 19:8) so he had been clothed in righteousness, sanctified in the Lord's service. This man was young, immature, not spiritually seasoned, but he was following Jesus. This young man was separated from his linen garment when they seized him. His choosing to flee was an unrighteous act and the implication is that he lost the righteousness that was based upon his righteous acts. The salvation of his soul which was dependent upon his willingness to follow Y'shua's leading to the cross was at risk and was lost in the time of trial.
Further insight into this matter comes from the sixteenth chapter of Revelation.
("Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.")
You may have a hard time accepting this interpretation on your first reading, but when you digest this presentation and return to reconsider the matter in keeping with the prophetic context, you will see plainly enough the message for our day. Do not be found naked, friend. If that young man had not fled, he would have kept his garment.#1
In addition to the physical separations noted, distinctions of a particular and notably important kind are brought to our attention. These distinctions are instances of separation that contrast in the matter of one's ability. For example, Y'shua told Peter, James and John to watch and pray with him, but they were not able. Y'shua was able. A similar distinction can be noted in the popularly quoted comment made, that the spirit is willing, but the body (or flesh) is weak. (Matthew 26:41 and Mark 14:38)
So, in the events which transpired on the Mount of Olives in the place called Gethsemane, we have seen several instances of separation. A high pressure place, that oil press! There is something of great importance in the observation that a press separates the oil from the rest of the olive!
At this point in the study, I'd like to compare what happened in Gethsemane to the account in II Samuel 15-16 where David was going up the mount, as I had previously done with the other passages where the Mount of Olives was referenced. An extremely significant point of division will be highlighted in doing so.
The first point of comparison I will note is that both Y'shua and David are seen at the time when the throne that was deservedly theirs had just been denied them. Do you understand that parallel? It's very important.
Noting another comparison between the records by way of contrast here, David was suffering for his own sins but Y'shua was suffering for ours. And a further parallel can be noted as the situation in both records on the mount was a very intense emotional experience. Sorrow and grief were so powerfully present.
Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."
It was so intense that, according to Luke 22:43, "An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him." It is said that the disciples, too, were exhausted from sorrow. (Luke 22:45) In comparison, II Samuel declares:
But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up.
II Samuel 15:30
The covering of the head was an expression of grief, it is true, but is it not suggestive also of prayer? This was and remains the traditional habit of a Jewish man to cover his head when he prays. (David and Y'shua probably were each wearing their tallith, their prayer shawl.) Prayer was the activity most earnestly and intensely engaged in by Y'shua and encouraged in his disciples while at Gethsemane. Unfortunately, sleeping was the dominant activity (actually, non-activity) for the disciples, in spite of Y'shua's repeated directives to watch and pray. David's barefoot condition suggests to me that he was sanctified, cleansed from the dust of the world's uncleanness upon his sandals and in special communion with the Lord.
Now, I'd like to address a crucial separation which begins to take place at Gethsemane. It begins in the olive grove and finds its conclusion in a place that must not have been very far away. The separation is in the matter of our Lord's nature itself, or, perhaps I should speak of the plural - natures. His divinity and his humanity seem to be displayed differently from this point on. Our Lord had previously evaded those who would have caused him harm,#2 but henceforth, acknowledging the arrival of a specially appointed time, he allows himself to be taken and submits to whatever Satan's minions wish to do to him. His ability to call upon the angelic host to minister to him had not diminished#3 but his humanity became willingly subjected to the satanic authority over flesh. He exercises his ability to choose in the matter. He is drinking of the cup which, in accordance with his Father's perfect will, must necessarily have been drunk. It seems that he separated himself from the exercise of his spiritual authority that came from his divine nature, even to the end of being cut off from his soul life in death and then even, in some manner, from his Father.#4 Whatever he had shared with his Father must have necessarily been given up for his mission to be fulfilled. He had to make that tough decision to sever some important connection while he was in the garden. Perhaps this was expressed in the blood-like sweat pouring forth on the ground. (no pun intended) A new and difficult phase in his mission began which reached an end at Golgotha. I bring the matter to your attention here because of the parallel I see in II Samuel 15, where David sent the priests back to Jerusalem with the ark.
Then the king said to Zadok, "Take the ark of God back into the city.
II Samuel 15:25a
The big deal about the ark was the shekhinah, the presence of the glory of Yahweh and the victorious power of the Lord. David willingly separated himself from the ark, apparently symbolic of Y'shua relinquishing something of his divine authority, divinity or divine access. Do you see how this compares vividly with our Lord's experience at Gethsemane? That is where he began to offer his very humanity, his existence in the fleshly body as a willing sacrifice. Good bye shekhinah. Good bye to the exercise of power. Hello suffering in the flesh.
If I find favor in the Lord's eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. 26) But if he says, 'I am not pleased with you,' then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.
II Samuel 15:25b-26
When David said, "let him do to me whatever seems good to him" was he not saying what Y'shua said at Gethsemane? Here are three accounts of what was said. (The prayer was similarly offered three times, three being a prominent number in Gethsemane's account - separation into threes.) Note that Y'shua is entreating his Father about a separation, for a removal of this cup from him.
My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.
Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.
Y'shua was strangely uncertain about what his Father is thinking and he was very concerned about what the outcome would be. How could this have been if there had not come a transition into a new phase of relationship marked by separation from His Father?
In 2 Samuel, David said to Zadok (whose name means "to justify"#5) "If I find favor in the Lord's eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again." As we are convinced beyond all doubt, Y'shua did find favor in the Lord's eyes and was brought back to see it#6 and his dwelling place again when he ascended up on high to sit at the right hand of the throne of God. Now, too, we see that David had said, "But if he says, 'I am not pleased with you,' then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him." Yahweh had not previously been displeased with Y'shua#7 because of his perfect obedience, but must now have been forced to judge him for sin because his son willingly accepted the role of the substitutionary sacrifice for sin. A substitute must be fully identified with that for which it will substitute. The sinless one was ready and willing to exchange his condition for ours - sinfulness. And so it came to be as David had said. Y'shua was ready to accept his Father's displeasure and have done to him whatever seemed good.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
This death on a cross (and all the shame, suffering and pain that accompanied what Y'shua experienced from his arrest forward) was what seemed good to be done. Horrible beyond my imagination! I'm sure glad he endured it faithfully!!! And so, what began on the Mount of Olives was brought to completion on a cross, on a hill, probably that same hill.
It seems likely to me that our Lord's life was separated from his body in death on the Mount of Olives very near to or within the confines of Gethsemane. Dr. Ernest Martin, (author of Secrets of Golgotha) Dr. David Hocking and many others believe that the Mount of Olives is the site of the crucifixion. If you have understood this study you will be able to see that the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion are replete with separation and division, evidence that speaks loudly to us of the location of the event. There is no doubt that the ascension occurred from the Mount of Olives because it is stated directly in the biblical text.
In a similar matter, if you investigate the account in Genesis 22 of father Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac, it strongly suggests that the mount the Lord would show him in the region of Moriah is that very Olivet! Get your Bible and read the first 14 verses of Genesis 22, if you would. You will find the now familiar activity of donkey riding. Also, they separated themselves from their servants as Y'shua in Gethsemane and as David probably in the same. Isaac was wondering about the offering, asking his Father, "...where is the lamb for the burnt -offering." Similarly, Y'shua was curious about whether his life would be required in the drinking of the cup. Verse 14 of Genesis 22 reads:
So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided."
Apparently, what we call Olivet or the Mount of Olives, Abraham called "The Lord will Provide." The ram caught in a thicket was the acceptable sacrifice that was provided instead of Isaac. The ram had been caught by its horns in a thicket of thorns. Horns in the Bible usually represent the power and authority. Horns come out of the head. The ram, or, male lamb of God, Y'shua, had a crown of thorns encircling his head as he went to be sacrificed on the Mount of Olives. He was, symbolically, a ram caught in a thicket by the horns.
This place was the site of a great trial of Abraham's faith and of Isaac's obedience. It was the site of our Lord's trial of faith and obedience as he endured the arrest, trial, humiliation, and suffering that led to his giving his life on the cross. And, quite probably, this was the very location of the cross upon which the Lord offered up his life.
Isaac was specifically placed on top of the wood, showing that the son and the wood would be burned up together, mingling their ashes. This alludes to the rite of the red heifer, tying this in with another study of last day significance called Resurrection on the Third Day. Jewish tradition asserts that the Mount of Olives is the location of the rite of the red heifer. This rite and the other events which have taken place on the mount as recorded in the Bible all seem to point toward what is now the very near future.
If you are familiar with the study "Resurrection on the Third Day," you may have noticed a veiled reference to a resurrection in the reading of Genesis 22.
On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
Based upon my extensive study of this matter, whenever you read about something happening three times or about the third day, there is a parable of resurrection hidden in the context. There are several triples in the account of what happened in Gethsemane. These triples and the distinctions between each member of the triple are very important. These threefold divisions are of paramount importance for those of us who live in the closing moments of the age. Their significance will be taken up in the next document in this series. What happened at Gethsemane is being played out once again at the close of this age, my dear friend.
In Review: Some separations evidenced at Gethsemane
- olives pressed into oil, separating oil from olives.
- separating blood like sweat from Y'shua
- ...between Y'shua and his disciples at time for watching and praying
- ...between Y'shua and all others as Judas betrayed him
- Malchus ear was separated from his head
- The young man was separated from his linen garment as he fled, separating himself from Y'shua and the scene of the arrest
- The disciples were scattered, separated from Y'shua and from each other
- Y'shua's Divine and Human natures
Separations by way of distinction in ability:
- Y'shua was able to pray, the others were not
- The spirit is willing, the flesh is weak
1) II Corinthians 5:1-10: "Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2) Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3) because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4) For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5) Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 6) Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7) We live by faith, not by sight. 8) We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9) So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Return
2) John 10:39: "Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp."
Luke 22:53: "Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour--when darkness reigns." Return
3) Matthew 26:53: "Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" Return
4) Psalm 22, Matthew 27:46: "About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Return
5) Romans 3:25-26: "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-- 26) he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Return
6) Revelation 11:19: "Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm." Return
7) Psalm 22:24: "For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help." Return