Maybe you were a little baffled at the fact we didn't post photos of the place Jesus actually prayed upon while Peter, James and John were snoozin' against the olive trees. After a few steps through the garden, it was hard to miss the quick transition back to reality. Would it surprise you if we told you they built an actual church around the rock where Jesus fell on his face and cried out to his Father, "Not as I will, but as you will!"
The church was pretty epic. Elaborate murals consume the walls and ceiling while flags represent each nation. The Basilica of the Agony is the original name of the church. It was built from 1919-1924 with funding from twelve different countries, thus giving it the nickname, The Church of All Nations.
In the center, the high altar overlooks a large slab of rock, which is said to be the rock on which Jesus prayed in agony the night of his betrayal.
We were just about to leave when we heard a group of people singing hymns beside the rock. They had just begun a church service. Hearing the angelic voices echoing through the church built around the rock and upon the Rock sent chills down our spine.
When you're standing at the Garden of Gethsemane, this is the glimpse you get of the Old City in Jerusalem (where the Via Dolorosa is, etc.). The particular part of the Old City Walls is the Golden Gate, a closed gate located above ground level and below the Temple Mount. It is only visible from outside the city.
According to Jewish tradition, when the Messiah comes, he will enter Jerusalem through this gate. To prevent him from coming, the Muslims sealed the gate during the rule of Suleiman.
As Christians, all we can say is, "Praise God that the Messiah has already come and defeated the grave! Now we wait eagerly for his glorious return."
Throughout our tour of Jerusalem, we realized that the atmosphere and landscape of the sites were not even close to what we had imagined... until we arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane.
It was as if we had traveled back in time. We could actually visualize Jesus telling Peter, James and John to "sit here, while I go over there and pray" (Matthew 26:37). In this peaceful setting, Jesus falls to his face and prays to his Father. "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (39).
Peter and the brothers fall asleep while they are supposed to be keeping watch... not one, not two, but three times. You know Jesus' frustration with the guys had to be pretty heated by that point. However, in all fairness to the disciples, look at these trees!! Who wouldn't want to curl up in the little nooks of the olive tree's massive trunk?
We seem to bash Peter a lot for his mistakes of sleeping, not having enough faith, etc., but he was a fleshly human being just like the rest of us. How often is it that we beg for a few more minutes of sleep in the mornings, sacrificing the time we could be spending with our Savior? We miss so much life and freedom that Christ desires to offer us because we succumb to temptation, to our flesh.
One of our new favorite songs is "Slumber" by Needtobreathe (video at bottom of post). The first stanza goes like this:
Days, they force you back under those covers,
lazy mornings; they multiply.
Glory's waiting outside your windows.
Wake on up from your slumber, baby open up your eyes.
Don't miss out on the blessings and adventures God has waiting for you because you sleep through life. JD and I are consistently guilty of doing this but we praise Jesus in the fact that He draws us back to Him, back to His mercy and His transforming grace.
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