GETHSEMANE: THE OIL PRESS
Mark 14:32 “Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray’”
In the natural it is hard to believe that sweet clear oil can come from olives; just judging by their appearance it would be difficult for many of us to figure out that olives can produce such a great and valuable commodity if we did not know about them
The Bible uses God’s creation in many different ways as a metaphor or in other words, God uses physical things that we naturally understand to reveal spiritual principles which are naturally difficult for us to understand, that is why Jesus used so many parables in His teachings.
It would be extremely hard for, let’s say, creatures that know about the goodness and holiness of Almighty God, and who also know and are well aware of the rottenness of man, to think that in any way, shape, or form we humans are created in the image of God, but we are.
And that is exactly the idea that this metaphor is trying to convey to us.
Luke 1:37 “For with God nothing will be impossible.”
The first thing that this metaphor teaches us is that the transition between humanity and divinity is a process, a difficult, some will say impossible process, but as the angel told Mary, God specializes in making those things which are impossible a reality.
The foundational principle of this process is revealed in the reality of the life and death struggle that is found throughout the creation.
Mark 14:34 “Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.’”
Everything in creation speaks of the struggles between life and death, beginning and ending, and the continuance of life through procreation.
Spiritual procreation however, and by that I mean the human transformation that takes place from natural to spiritual, from mortality to immortality, as well as the born again experience, cannot be attained unless one dies first.
We see this in the creation as well, it is called metamorphosis.
John 12:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”
This process of dying to self so that we can become alive to God can be best understood by the Gethsemane principle that Jesus taught us.
John 12:25 “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
The Gethsemane principle is one of slowly applying pressure until a separation takes place, the liquid must be removed from the solid, in our case, our souls which are spiritual in nature must be weaned from their dependence to the flesh, if the transformation is going to be successful.
Psalm 131:2 “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
This principle is at odds with some of what we hear taught today about Christianity, for in some instances Christian doctrine is offered as a way to get away from pressure, sort of like a refuge from reality.
I kind of get the impression sometimes that what some are preaching is, Come to Jesus and all your troubles and poverty will magically disappear, and you will have no more struggles with life.
But that is not what Jesus said, unfortunately those who come to Jesus on the basis of a false premise are more likely to quit and give up.
John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Jesus makes it very clear that the aim of the process is not to remove the tribulation, the pressure that we are under while we are in the world; but rather that we may attain His peace in the middle of the tribulation.
We convert the physical pressures of this world into spiritual peace, a peace that is not of this world, and the way that we know that we can do that is because He not only did it before us, but He showed us how to do it as well. And this is how He did it:
Mark 14:36 “And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’”
Here is how I see it: If I know that all of my sins have been forgiven, and if I know that my daily walk with Him is one that continuously depends on His grace and mercy which are new every morning, and if I know that that is what keeps me in right standing with Him; then I know that if I am facing a difficult situation and I ask Him to remove it from me, for I much rather not drink of that cup if you will, of whatever it is that I am facing, and if He does not remove it from me, I am immediately made aware of the fact this is something that will be beneficial for me in the long run, and I must endure it.
So that I do not feel like He does not love me anymore, or that He is punishing me for some old sin that He never brought up, or that I somehow fell out of His will for my life.
Peace is knowing that it is well with my soul no matter what.
If He removes the thorn from my flesh, I praise Him for His wonderful grace and mercy that He has shown to me, if He does not, then I praise Him for His wonderful grace and mercy that He has shown to me by letting me go through a process of purification that will make me more sensitive to His spiritual promptings.
So like Jesus, in whatever situation I am facing, I let our Father know how I feel about the prospect of an undesirable tribulation that is coming my way, but then I say with a submitted and honest heart: Not my will, but Your will be done in my life.
For I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I belong to Him, and that I am in His will to the best of my present abilities, and that whatever comes my way is part of the process that will one day deliver me into the joy of His presence, completed and transformed, into what He destined me to be, for He is able to do it, I just got to go along with it.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”
Now if I am one of those who believe that Christianity is like a club med type of resort, where all my needs are tended to immediately, with no disturbances to bother me, and I say in my heart to the Lord, When is that big limousine coming over to take me to heaven Lord, for as You know Lord, next year is not going to work out for me, for I got other and more important things to do?
Boy! Then I would be in for a rude awakening.
Think of all the different olives that are thrown down into the pit of the olive press, is any of them treated differently than the others? I think not! They are all pressed evenly and thoroughly until the process is completed, then and only then is the flesh removed, after all the oil has been extracted, the anointing oil that breaks the yoke.
Mark 14:3 “And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His (Jesus) head.”
Before Jesus headed for His encounter with Gethsemane He was anointed with a very expensive perfumed oil.
Before the apostles of Jesus headed for their encounter with their destined Gethsemane, where all of them but John died as martyrs, they also were anointed with the precious oil of the Spirit that came down from heaven.
Before we enter into our very own Gethsemane oil press, we are all anointed as well, for none of us can be born again unless we are first born of the Spirit of God. So that I see a pattern here.
What makes the miracle of the transformation is the Oil of God in us, the anointing oil that breaks the yoke of worthlessness and makes us precious before Him.
Many do not understand the function of the Oil of God, or the oil of the anointing. If you remember as the one hundred and twenty disciples were filled with the oil of the Spirit and had the oil of the anointing lid over their heads, some said of them that they were drunk, for they could not see the great significance of the event.
Mark 14:4 “But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil wasted?’”
It was the same when Jesus was anointed by the woman, some saw nothing but a waste of a good, perfumed oil, and thereby missed the significance as well, which Jesus soon reveled to them.
Mark 14:8 “She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.”
Here is the revelation of the mystery that I see: The anointing that we all crave and want to be filled of with its power, its a burial anointing, a death anointing if you will.
It makes me wonder how many of us when we pray for God’s anointing power for our lives, if we really know that what we are asking for is to die the death of the cross, die to self, die to life, that He may live in us and through us without us hindering Him and His will for us.
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the anointed One) lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”