“Jesus said these things and went out with his disciples across the brook of Kedron where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered.”
After Jesus completes what we typically refer to as his “High Priestly Prayer,” the benediction for the very first observance of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus leads his disciples out of Jerusalem and down through what we call the Kidron Valley (Kedron is a transliteration of the Greek) and then back up the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30) to a garden which they regularly frequented (John 18:2). Gethsemane means “Olive Press” in Hebrew, so the implication is that this is more of an olive orchard than it is a garden of flowers or herbs like we might think of in the west. In addition, the implication here in John is that the garden is enclosed in some way, either by a copse or a wall of sorts, given that they are described as “entering” the garden. We are not told who might have owned this place, but whoever did, clearly accepted Jesus and his disciples as a welcome guest as they came and went from this place freely.
Jerusalem would have been fairly cool during this time of the year, probably in the upper 40s or low 50s, so the night air would have felt crisp as the disciples walked with their master in the darkness up to the Mount of Olives. Something was up on this night as everything was different than the past Passover feasts that they had spent together. Little did the disciples understand that things would get far more different even still. This night would be the darkest and most grim night not only of their lives, but the darkest night of human history as the Lord of Creation would be handed over to wicked men who would falsely place him on trial and then execute him on the next day. The disciples would flee the scene, Peter denied Christ three times, and Judas committed the ultimate betrayal. Yet, the trip to the garden was just the beginning of this long, dark night.
My prayer for you, brethren, is that as you reflect on the events of this night, seek to place yourself in the shoes of these disciples. Do not forget that they were real people experiencing all of the emotions, fears, and worries that you or I might experience were we in their place. This is no, “once upon a time” story, but this is real and accurate history of the things that led up to the event that would bring redemption to fallen man. As low as this is a point in history, it is also the place where we realize the Savior’s love for us, as he was willing to endure what this night would bring with it.
“No one has a love greater than this; that someone lays down his life for his friends.”