|Volume 17 Number 11 November 2015||
Jesus in Gethsemane
Ernest S. Underwood
The Garden of Gethsemane is a beautiful place. It is situated across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem. Ancient olive trees grow there. The word “Gethsemane” means “oil or olive press.” It was there that Jesus came after observing the Passover with His apostles. It was in the Garden that He fervently prayed to the Father. It was there that Judas planted the betrayal kiss.
As I stood in the Garden a few years ago, I learned an amazing fact. From the Garden one has a clear view of the general area of the Temple. It was in this area where those who came to arrest Him gathered. It was from here that they made their way down the hill with their lanterns and torches, across the Kidron Valley and then on up to Gethsemane. As they made their way, He could easily have seen them. Think of this! He could have seen them coming, and He could have run and escaped, but He didn’t! He stayed, was arrested, endured a humiliating trial, was beaten, was spat upon and finally nailed to a cross. Why? Because “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” That’s right, friends, it was because of His great love for you and me.
This same One said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Do you love Him? Do you really love Him?
In Acts 16:25-34, Paul and Silas were in trouble. They were deep in prison in the strange city of Philippi far away, yet they were able to sing in terrible circumstances. How could they do this? They were risking their lives to preach Christ to those people who resented them and gave bitter opposition to the Gospel message. Lies were spread about their work by men with selfish motives. These same men demanded their arrest. The town officials ordered them to be beaten and thrown into prison. The Bible tells us, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25). We also see that the Philippian Jailer and his family obeyed the Gospel during this time in the same hour (Acts 16:30-33).
It was under such conditions that Paul and Silas were singing. Can we believe that after all of this they were singing? Why? The answer is simple and clear. They could sing in the dark because they were doing what God wanted them to do.
There is a special bird in God’s creation that we call the nightingale. A peculiar thing about this creature is that it continues to sing long after the sun has set. Most other birds have gone silent until the next morning, but not the nightingale. His melodies soar long after sunset. His song is not silenced by darkness and night. Why then does the nightingale sing at night? Well, that is exactly what God intended this bird to do.
Walking in the light of God, we can have a song even when trouble surrounds us. Circumstances cannot discourage the Christian who has a song in his heart. Our joy will be in doing what the Lord and given us to do. We delight in knowing God and singing of Him. We can do it, even in darkness. If we walk in the light, we have a song in the darkest of nights. I am reminded of a song that we often sing.
There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low,
“Fear not, I am with thee – peace, be still,”
In all of life’s ebb and flow.
L.B. Bridges (1909)