Israel Trip Journal- Day 3 pt. 1: Mount of Olives

Monday, March 14, 2011
Ancient Olive Tree- Garden of Gethsemane

Mount of Olives

After breakfast, we rode to the Garden of Gethsemane. The Garden of Gethsemane is at the foot of the Mount of Olives and looks west toward the Eastern Gate of the Old City–also called the Golden Gate–across the Kidron Valley. This fact is mentioned in John 18:1: “When He had finished praying, Jesus left with His disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and He and His disciples went into it.”

The Garden is an olive grove; Gethsemane comes from the Assyrian for ‘oil press,’ which is what this part of the Mount of Olives was used for. An oil press exerts great force on olives to bring forth oil, and some commentators say that it is not coincidental that Jesus anguished here. The incredible pressure on Jesus as he prayed in the Garden was symbolic of the pressure of the ‘oil press,’ such pressure that it brought forth liquid from Christ in the form of bloody sweat (Luke 22:44). Later that night, He would be betrayed by Judas Iscariot (Luke 22:47 & Mark 14:43-51).
It’s incredible, but the Garden still has olive trees that are almost 2,000 years old! Unfortunately, according to some accounts, all the trees in this area were cut down by the Romans in 70 AD during the siege of Jerusalem; therefore, these threes are almost 2000 years old. The Garden is only a small walled-in area now, but once covered the majority of the mount.
After taking some pictures and praying in family groups, we crossed the street that runs through the Garden, we entered another part of the Garden, where the Church of All Nations resides. This church, also called the Church of the Basilica of the Agony, was built in the 1920’s on top of previous churches and funded by several nations—all of whose national coat-of-arms are painted onto separate domes on the ceiling. The church was built to enshrine a piece of bedrock that tradition holds is the place where Jesus prayed that fateful night (Mark 14:32-42). The interior of the church is beautiful with mosaics depicting Christ’s agony, betrayal and arrest.
Inside Basilica of All Nations- Jesus’ Agony in the Garden

When you stand at the front entrance to the Church of All Nations, you are facing the Old City, and here, just as in the Garden, you can see the Eastern Gate. The Eastern Gate, one of eleven gates to the Holy City, was shut up in the 16th century AD, during the rule of Sulieman. It is believed that the Muslim conquerors (the Ottoman Turks) shut it to prevent fulfillment of prophecy. Further, there is a Muslim cemetery planted right in front of the gate. Muslims believe that Jesus would not defile himself by passing through a graveyard. They were aware of the prophecy in Ezekiel 44: 1-3 (which he pronounced around 600 B.C.). The Jews are aware of this prophecy as well—there are an estimated 150,000 graves on the Mount of Olives (south of the Church of all Nations), many famous Jews have been buried here, including Zechariah himself (who prophesied Jesus’ return to this spot). These Jews hope to have a ‘front seat’ during the end time events when Jesus returns to the Mount, and triumphantly enters through the Eastern Gate (Zechariah 14:4).*

Jewish cemetary on Mt. Olivet


Some more important & fascinating facts about the Mount of Olives:
1. It was here that Jesus delivered the Olivet Discourse, in which He predicted His death, the end times, false prophets and the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD
(Matthew 24:1-51; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:1-38).
2. Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives
(Acts 1:10-12).
3. The ancient road from Bethany to Jerusalem passed over the summit of the Mount of Olives. Jesus would have walked that road many times visiting Lazarus, Mary and Martha.
4. David left via the Mount of Olives on his way out of Jerusalem when Absalom tried to depose him
(2 Samuel 15:30).*There has been a discovery of the original Eastern Gate buried beneath the present one.Since this day is such a long one, I’ve decided to break it up. This concludes part 1 of Day 3’s journal entry.Next post: Day 3 pt. 2 : City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Pool of Siloam, Temple Mount