After a day of rest, Thursday of Holy Week was a full, pivotal day in the life and death of Jesus. The Gospel of John summarizes the beginning of Holy Week in one chapter (John 12) but devotes five and a half chapters to Thursday. Jesus shared the Passover (the Last Supper) with His Disciples, taught a lesson on servanthood by washing their feet, predicted His betrayal and denial, and teaches on the way to the Father, the Holy Spirit, abiding, trials and perseverance. After teaching, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, was betrayed and arrested, and was denied by Peter.
Today on the side of the Mount of Olives lies a church and a beautiful garden in the place where Jesus prayed right before His arrest. The word Gethsemane literally means “olive press” and was literally a place where the olives were harvested. The olives were pressed into oil by being crushed under the great weight of a stone press. It was in this place where the Lord was crushed under the weight of the sins of the world He would have to bear hours later.
Hours before this Jesus had told His disciples, “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.” (John 16:20, NLT) Though there was agony for Jesus that night and for the disciples in the coming days, grief would be turned to joy. And there may be crushing weight of our own Gethsemanes but we will, with the rest of the world, rejoice. It took the garden to get to the cross and it took the cross to give us the empty tomb….
You turn our grieving into joy
The weight is like a millstone
grinding down our hearts to pulp.
The pressure is ever increasing,
the world promising only trouble.
You disappear from sight
and the world turns to chaos before us.
Crushed underneath darkest grief,
we let go of a failing hope.
Your precious blood ran freely,
Your body broken, our spirits trampled.
Until the grinding stone was exchanged
for the stone of a borrowed tomb,
rolled away to reveal the Truth
we couldn’t see through our pain.
You call us friends and we know
our hearts cannot be troubled.
You give a peace beyond understanding,
not like the peace the world can give.
We see your face again
and the world cannot take our joy from us.
Guided by the Spirit’s light,
we tell of Your unfailing love.