The Garden of Gethsemane

Friday 13th of June 2014

This afternoon we had some free time in the afternoon, so I walked down the Via Dolorosa, through the Lion’s Gate, to the Kedron Valley. There I visited the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations, so-called because various nations contributed to its construction. Having visited Yad vaShem the day before and seen the agony inflicted on the Jewish people in the Holocaust, I thought it was appropriate to visit the site which commemorates the agony endured by another Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, two thousand years ago.

The Church of all Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane in the Kedron Valley, just outside the city walls, directly east of the Temple Mount.

The Church of all Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane in the Kedron Valley, just outside the city walls, directly east of the Temple Mount.


The mosaic on the facade of the church presents the key image of Christ in the Garden while his disciples around him sleep.  The four statues above the pillars are holding open books which tell the story in Latin.

The mosaic on the facade of the church presents the key image of Christ in the Garden while his disciples around him sleep. The four statues above the pillars are holding open books which tell the story in Latin.

The story is told in the Gospel of Matthew 26:47ff.

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38 Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” 39 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

View through the fence of the gnarled branches of the ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane. View through the fence of the gnarled branches of the ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Olive Tree in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Olive Tree in the Garden of Gethsemane.


Flower in the foreground, olive tree in the background, in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Flower in the foreground, olive tree in the background, in the Garden of Gethsemane.


The central image above the sanctuary also depicts the suffering in the Garden.
Mosaic in the nave above and behind the main altar.

Mosaic in the nave above and behind the main altar.


The story continues:

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. 51 Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

These events too are depicted in mosaics in the Church.

In front of the altar is what is called “The Rock of Agony”. Interestingly, the decorative surround to this rock – a metal “fence” in the shape of a crown of thorns with birds with outstretched wings perched at the corners – was donated by Australia.

The Rock of Agony

The Rock of Agony


While I was photographing the olive trees in the Garden, a cloud overshadowed the sun. Without the bright sunlight, the olives were in shadow, so I was not able to photograph them. So I turned my camera upwards and took a photograph of the sky scene, the sun’s rays shining out from behind the cloud, which I think is rather spectacular.
Sun's rays shining out from behind a cloud in the blue sky above the Garden of Gethsemane.

Sun’s rays shining out from behind a cloud in the blue sky above the Garden of Gethsemane.


View from the Garden of Gethsemane of the Wall of the Old City around the Temple Mount.  The walled up gate is the Eastern or Golden Gate.

View from the Garden of Gethsemane of the Wall of the Old City around the Temple Mount. The walled up gate is the Eastern or Golden Gate.


Here is some information about the Eastern or Golden Gate seen in the above photo:

The Eastern Gate and Prophecy

Neh. 3:29
“…the gate that looketh toward the east: And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east.”

Ezekiel 44:1-3
1 Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut.
2 And he said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut.
3 Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way.”

The “Golden Gate” was located in the East wall of Jerusalem; it was one of eleven entrance gates into the city. Notice in the above picture that this gate is sealed shut. It was sealed up in the 16th century A.D.

A little background on the East gate of Jerusalem: The East gate was walled up by it’s Muslim conquerors (the Ottoman Turks) in 1530 A.D. Notice also the cemetery that has been planted in front of it. Many believe this was done to prevent the entrance of the Jewish Messiah through that gate as was foretold by known Old Testament prophecies. However, Ezekiel prophesied the shutting of this gate itself around 600 B.C. — that it would be shut “because the LORD (Jehovah or Yahweh), the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.”

Jesus entered Jerusalem through the East gate around 30 A.D. (long before it was blocked by the Ottomans) as he came down from the Mount of Olives and entered the temple according to our understanding of Luke 19:28-48. He would have entered through the original gate in the wall which was destroyed with the city by the Romans in 70 A.D. Ezekiel says concerning this closed gate that the “Prince” (which the Messiah is often called throughout the Old Testament and Jesus is called in the New Testament) shall enter it again. Jesus, having entered the city, said that he would not be seen again until Jerusalem acknowledges him (Matthew 23:37-39).

The Eastern gate is presently considered by the Arabs to be their exclusive property. It is sealed up and blocked off. However one day, the Messiah will land on the Mount of Olives, with all His saints, and walk down to and right through the Eastern Gate and into the Temple area.
http://www.bible-history.com/gentile_court/TEMPLECOURTThe_Eastern_Gate_and_Prophecy.htm

Shalom, Peace, Salaam!!!

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