THE OIL PRESS
Matthew 26:36-46 The Passion Translation Then Jesus led his disciples to an orchard called “The Oil Press.” He told them, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 He took Peter, [James], and John with Him. However, an intense feeling of great sorrow plunged His soul into deep sorrow and agony. 38 And He said to them, “My heart is overwhelmed and crushed with grief. It feels as though I’m dying. Stay here and keep watch with Me.”
39 Then He walked a short distance away, and overcome with grief, He threw himself facedown on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if there is any way You can deliver Me from this suffering, please take it from Me. Yet what I want is not important, for I only desire to fulfill Your plan for Me.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to strengthen Him.
40 Later, he came back to his three disciples and found them all sound asleep. He awakened Peter and said to him, “Do you lack the strength to stay awake with Me for even just an hour? 41 Keep alert and pray that you’ll be spared from this time of testing. You should have learned by now that your spirit is eager enough, but your humanity is weak.”
42 Then he left them for a second time to pray in solitude. He said to God, “My Father, if there is not a way that you can deliver Me from this suffering, then Your will must be done.”
43 He came back to the disciples and found them sound asleep, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. 44 So He left them and went away to pray the same prayer for the third time.
45 When he returned again to His disciples, He awoke them, saying, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Don’t you know the hour has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to the authority of sinful men? 46 Get up and let’s go, for the betrayer has arrived.”
After dinner we walked to the olive grove, known as Gethsemane. This was the also the place where the olives were pressed to produce oil. Jesus grew quiet as we drew near. We became quiet as well. The air was heavy and we all felt a general uneasiness.
Jesus told the other disciples to sit while He prayed, but He took Peter, my brother James and me, and we walked a little further. He said nothing to us as we walked. As the sun was setting we could see His face was grim and His jaw set. Jesus stopped and told us He was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. We had never seen Him like this.
Jesus asked us to stay and keep watch while He prayed. He walked away from us and fell to the ground. We could not hear the words He prayed, and we could only see His form on the ground as the sun was setting. It seemed He had crossed over to another realm in the shadows.
Jesus came back to us and found us sleeping. “Could you not stay awake with Me for even an hour?” He asked. He had never in once in all our time together, ever expressed that He needed something from us before that night. And we could not give Him this one thing.
I know you want to ask me how we could have fallen asleep that night. We all wanted to, for we loved Him. The darkness of that night created a void between Jesus and us, and our weak humanity gave way to slumber beneath it.
One, two, three times He prayed, “Dear Father, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. I know that You can do all things. But not My will, Father, but Your will be done. If this is Your will, I will do it.” One, two, three times Jesus asked us to keep watch and to pray, and one, two, three times we fell asleep. One, two, three times He came back to us.
Lights appeared in the distance. A mob entered the olive grove armed with clubs and swords, led by Judas. He betrayed Jesus with a kiss. The hour had come for the pressing. Soon, the precious oil would begin to flow.
Dear Jesus, my spirit also is willing, most of the time, but my flesh is so weak, my humanity so frail. I want to be able to do what You ask of me. I want to watch and pray, I want to be strong in times of temptation and testing. And most of all, I want to do Your will, and not my own. Jesus I pray, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Strengthen my heart, my humanity. Inspire and empower me to obey You. I cannot do this on my own. But with You, all things are possible.