The accounts from the Gospels of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane can be found in Matthew 26:36-56, Mark 14:32-52, Luke 22:40-53, and John 18:1-11. For a full picture of events this evening, I suggest readers read all four accounts.

Also for reference there is a map at the bottom of the post that might help place events in reader’s minds better.

Jesus and his disciples had partaken of the Last Supper, and had left the city. They had gone apparently to the mount of Olives, then to a place called Gethsemane. It is often referred to as the Garden of Gethsemane. So, just briefly, I want to talk about this place called Gethsemane.

What was it and why did Jesus and His disciples go there? Well, first it wasn’t really a “garden” in the sense we think of a garden. Meaning it was not just some secluded, flower filled grove where people would wander for quiet reflection. Literally, Gethsemane means “olive press.” Gethsemane was not a specific place, per se, but the general area at the base of the Mount of Olives. In a very literal sense, it was simply the area where olives grown on the Mount of Olives would be taken for processing into olive oil. While Jesus certainly used the area for quiet reflection, as our accounts show, the specific reason He and his disciples were there was far simpler. During the Passover, pilgrims to Jerusalem were not allowed to overnight in the walled city; there were just too many of them. So, at a designated time, all visitors would exit the city and find a place to spend the night. Gethsemane apparently was the area where Jesus commonly retired.

The view of Gethsemane from the Mount of Olives with a direct view of the Eastern Gate

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Since the area itself was fairly broad, exactly where did the events of this night take place? Well, nobody knows for sure although many claim to know for sure. This is one of those places where various groups claim to have the exact spot in their possession, but it is simply not certain.

gethsemane07 This is the Church of all nations, where the Catholic Church has determined the precise point of the final evening to have taken place. There is even a rock inside that is claimed to be the very spot Jesus prayed.

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gethsemane09 The Russian Orthodox Church claims the exact spot as they current location of the Church of Mary Magdalene.

gethsemane08 Here is the spot, and of course the Church commemorating the claims of the Orthodox Church.

See what I mean by things being complicated?

The site we went to was yet a 4th site, somewhat northward of the others. Oddly, the keys and access to this particular place is managed by a local Muslim family. Go figure, right?

This was a really nice place, and the access is by appointment only to minimize just many people are in there at any given time. Obviously, many come to this place to reflection and quiet time in the place where Jesus may have spent his last free evening. It was actually somewhat disappointing to me, as we were on a very tight schedule, to quiet reflection was very limited for us. Of an interesting note, that really broad trunked olive tree is possibly 1000 years old!

Jerusalem at the time of Jesus

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