On this day almost 2000 years ago Jesus and his disciples met together in a rented upper room at the southwest corner of the old city portion of Jerusalem. There they celebrated the Passover feast, called the Seder, together. Earlier today they would have taken the lamb they had acquired to the temple where the priest would ritualistically slaughter it and sprinkle the blood over the altar at the temple. Then the priest would have handed the body back to them so they could take it and roast it over pomegranate wood. Flash back to the ancient Israelites. The blood of the Passover lambs originally slaughtered in ancient Egypt would have been painted across the horizontal and vertical pieces of the doorway. And after the angel of death killed the first born of all the sons of Egypt, Pharaoh acquiesced to releasing the enslavened Israelites. They left their homes in such a hurry that there was no time allowed for the yeast to work in the bread, so they are unleavened bread. The unleavened bread has been a part of the Seder ever since. Bread was a very large part of middle eastern diet. It was a simple way to preserve and carry a ready-made food which had carbohydrates and even some protein. It was the means by which the people survived. Flash forward to the upper room. Jesus broke the unleavened bread, and proclaimed that it represented His own body. And that it would be “given for them”. What He meant here was that He would become the means by which they would survive, spiritually. Eternally. And then He took the wine and blessed it and told them it represented His blood and that it would be “poured out for the forgiveness of sins.” So He was alluding to the Paschal Lamb, which they would have just sacrificed and then eaten, but in terms of a permanent fix. That His blood would be the end all, be all to cover for their sins. And our sins. And by our faith in Him we gain access to this powerful, miraculous, merciful and gracious act of God (through His son Jesus) to reconcile us back to Himself.
The word gethsemane means “oil press”. This is where the olive harvesters would have brought their crops to be pressed into its basic essential element: olive oil. It is in the garden where Jesus asks His disciples to pray (numerous times He catches them dozing) while He prays to the Father. It’s here that the weight of all the sins of all man of all time begins to press in on him mentally and spiritually while physically he is under incredible duress. So much so that the very capillaries in his skin are bursting and droplets of blood are mingling with his sweat and dropping off of him. We see here that the sin He put on, although He had none, pressed out of Him his essential element: His blood. This is why God put on flesh, came to earth, lived as a human, never sinned, and paid the price for us. He took the eternal punishment we deserved on Himself so we might be able to be back in His presence. Shortly arrives Judas. He identifies Jesus, among the men in the garden cloaked by night, by kissing him on the cheek. And from here the night gets worse and worse for Jesus. The disciples scatter. Peter denies Jesus three times. And Jesus is unfairly tried, brutally beaten, and condemned to die on the cross. This same cross, where Jesus’s blood would be spread, both vertically and horizontally, would accept the blood of the lamb and the wrath of God would pass over us and set us free to be in communion with Him.