Israel is one country full of countless sites for religious pilgrimage and tourist attractions but there is one that really stands out and it is this special place that this piece is going to focus on. In this article, we are going to discuss why is the Garden of Gethsemane important. This piece is going to be a detailed guide relating to this important garden.
What Is The Garden Of Gethsemane?
The Garden of Gethsemane is a garden that also doubles as one of the most venerated sites in Christianity and in Judaism. In terms of size, the Garden of Gethsemane covers an area of 1,200 square meters so it is relatively big. Some of the most unique and stunning features of the Garden of Gethsemane are some really old olive trees in the garden. These olive trees are incredibly old – they are almost 1,000 years in age according to those who have documented them properly. Imagine a tree surviving for about a millennium and still thriving, that is clearly something impressive.
Talking of olive trees, some of the olive trees found in the Garden of Gethsemane are actually some of the oldest on the planet. This was confirmed by scientists who carried out a series of carbon dating tests and analyses to get the precise age. As a matter of fact, the studies also showed that all the olive trees in question were actually from the same plant and they are still very much alive today. Some Christians believe strongly that these trees are actually over 2,000 years old and that the trees provided shade to Jesus Christ and his disciples during their periods of challenges and tribulations.
Where Is The Garden Of Gethsemane?
The Garden of Gethsemane is located below the equally-famous Mount Olives in the holy city of Jerusalem. Its location follows the regular path from the Temple to the Mount of Olives towards the direction of Bethany.
Not far from the garden itself is the area called the Grotto of Gethsemane. According to the records, it was at this grotto that Jesus Christ alongside the disciples that followed him set up their camp. Another interesting detail with this grotto is that it is believed that the disciples fell asleep while inside this grotto. While they were deep in their sleep, Jesus Christ was outside praying and consumed by grief and palpable sadness. In order to remember these events, there are very lovely paintings inside the grotto that symbolize events such as the betrayal of Jesus Christ and even the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary.
What Does The Word ‘Gethsemane’ Even Mean?
Of course, it is quite apparent that the word ‘Gethsemane’ is not English in origin. It is actually traced as far back as the original Greek version of the Scriptures. However, the name itself has its roots in the Aramaic word ‘Gadsmane’ which means oil press.
One of the most remarkable things about this is that olive oil is still extracted from these trees even till today. It is this seemingly timeless and eternal nature of these trees that has baffled millions across the globe.
What Is The Story Behind The Garden Of Gethsemane?
The Garden of Gethsemane is famous today as a primary venue and destination for tourists and pilgrims alike. And one of the most interesting things about this place of holiness is that it has a remarkable history behind it. The garden has been a major site of pilgrimage for Christians for centuries. It is one of the earliest places used as a site for pilgrimage by the adherents of the faith.
The control of the area that is now Gethsemane has passed through different powers, authorities, and governments. However, that has not in any way diminished the great importance, influence, and reverence that the location command among the billions of Christians and Jews all across the globe.
What Is The Importance Of The Garden Of Gethsemane?
To the curious reader, there has to be a reason why the Garden of Gethsemane clearly stands out from the rest. After all, there are thousands of other gardens in Jerusalem but none of them is as spectacular and as famous as this. There are a few crucial points concerning the importance of the Garden of Gethsemane.
The first is that according to the traditions of Christianity, it was right inside the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus Christ passed through what was called the ‘agony in the garden’ and his subsequent arrest the night before he was eventually subjected to crucifixion.
At this point, it is good to talk a little about the ‘agony in the garden’ event. In the Scriptures, it was written that following the Last Supper, Jesus Christ decided to take a walk to an area of prayer. It is believed that this area of prayer is Gethsemane. On this walk, Jesus was escorted by three of his Apostles and these were James, John, and Peter. He instructed them not to sleep but to pray. It was during this session that Jesus walked some distance away from them and he was consumed by overwhelming sadness. Then Jesus prayed that if the incoming crisis was going to be avoidable then God should make it so. However, if it was destined to happen, then that the will of God be done.
Three times, Jesus Christ muttered this word of prayer and while doing so he kept checking the three apostles only to discover they had all dozed off. This led Jesus to proclaim the now-famous lines of the spirit being willing but the flesh is weak. At this point, God sent an angel to provide him courage. It was the agony that Jesus went through this period that led to it being branded ‘Agony in the Garden’. Apart from being an area where this very remarkable event happened, there are other reasons as to why the place is important.
- Another reason why the location is so much recognized is that the holy books signify the area as a place for pilgrimage. This scriptural foundation of this is why it is now one of the most revered sites of pilgrimage in all of Israel.
- But that is not all, the importance of the Garden of Gethsemane is also tied to the fact that based on the texts of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the garden is the place where Holy Virgin Mary was interred and also the place of occurrence of the Assumption of Mary. For this reason, it is a specifically holy to Catholics. There is also another section of the garden that is deemed holy to the Russian Orthodox Christians and then there is another section revered also for religious reasons by adherents of the Greek Orthodox Church.
- On a rock where it is believed that Jesus Christ prayed is a building called the Church of All Nations and it is a very important place. This is because the area is where Jesus prayed with sadness before the eventual betrayal by Judas Iscariot, his arrest and subsequent crucifixion. Many pilgrims visiting this church spend a lot of time meditating and remembering all that Jesus went through. Also called the Basilica of the Agony, construction was finished in early 20th century and remains one of the most visited places on the site.
- From all that has been said above, it is now abundantly clear that there is no way one can visit Jerusalem without paying a visit to this holy site. In fact, a visit to Jerusalem cannot be said to be complete without a trip to the famed and highly-revered Garden of Gethsemane. It is a place that is considered for good reasons to be perfect for prayers, meditation, and contemplation.
The calm nature of the environment and the cool ambiance provided by the trees make the area ideal for activities like praying and meditating. It is not noisy and everyone will fall in love with the tranquil atmosphere. This explains why many of the visitors to the Garden of Gethsemane describe the place as truly thought-provoking.
One other admirable thing about the Garden of Gethsemane is that it is a place that welcomes people of all gender and age groups. What that means is that it is also a perfect place to visit for the kids. Garden visits are always organized for children and there are tour guides who take their time to explain to the children all the marvelous things about the famed and blessed Garden of Gethsemane. Kids will surely find the olive trees fascinating and they will even be more impressed to know how old the trees are and also what they are used for.
Visitors to the Garden of Gethsemane are always impressed with how neat and well-maintained the site is. There are also many craftsmen and craftswomen on the site that sell various traditional items and cultural artifacts. These materials make the perfect souvenirs for tourists, locals and pilgrims alike.