“He went out and made his way as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.”Luke 22:39
The Mount of Olives is one of three peaks of a mountain ridge that runs just east of Jerusalem and overlooks the city. It is named after the large olive trees that once covered its land. It has significance to both Jews and Christians. In the Old Testament, when King David was betrayed by a friend, he made his way to the Mount of Olives (2 Samuel 15). During Judah’s exile in Babylon, God gave the prophet Ezekiel a vision in which “the glory of the Lord went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it” (Ezekiel 11).
Jesus regularly visited this mountain peak with his disciples, taught many lessons, and even sometimes spent the night there (John 18:2, Matthew 24-25, Luke 21:37).
It is from here that Jesus made his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem to signify the beginning of Holy Week. And it is from here that Jesus withdrew to pray His most fervent prayer to the LORD.
Luke 22:42 reads: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me-nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Do you think, in an earlier trip to the Mount of Olives, as Jesus was teaching about the end of the age or the lesson of the fig tree He realized the full weight of what was about to happen on that mount soon enough?
What about just before the parable of the sheep and goats? Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne” (Matthew 25:31). Do you think Jesus realized that He Himself would soon need strengthening from an angel to carry on?
Of course He did, because He is the Son of God, the Messiah. But as the Son of Man, Jesus’ full humanity is on display in this prayer in the garden just a stone’s throw from the mount that He’d been so familiar with in His earthly ministry.
The summer of my freshman year of college at Dallas Baptist University, I was given the opportunity to go to Israel and lead a Vacation Bible School in Nazareth in partnership with a local Christian school there. The last three days of our trip, we traveled to Jerusalem and the first place our tour guide took us was the Mount of Olives. We were able to look over the ancient city, ride camels (Put it on your bucket list if you’ve never ridden a camel on top of the Mount of Olives!), and then walk the road to the Garden of Gethsemane into the city. It was a trip that forever changed how I read God’s Word and encounter Jesus.
Scripture says that Jesus made His way to the Mount “as usual.” He had traveled this way many times before. But this time was different. Jesus knew He was about to encounter arrest, betrayal, torture, and death. In the hardest moment of Jesus’ earthly life to this point, He prayed, “nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Jesus also knew that death was not the last word for Him. And because of that, death is not the last word for us either. This Easter season, as we reflect on the truth of the resurrection, may we be reminded that because Jesus declared, “not my will, but yours, be done” we are able to be reconciled back to a holy and righteous God who calls us His own.