In ancient Israel, the olive press was used to extract oil from olives. After crushing, the olives went through three presses. The first press produced the best or “extra virgin” olive oil. This oil was used in the temple to light the menorah and to anoint prophets and kings. The second press produced average quality oil that was used for cooking, perfume, medicine, and cosmetics. The third press produced the least quality oil and was used for oil lamps and soap. 

 

On the night before He was crucified, Jesus went to an urban garden along the western slope of the Kidron Valley called Gethsemane. In light of the agriculture practice of thrice extracting oil from olives, it is worth noting that Jesus prayed three times in a place with a name that means “oil press” in Aramaic. 

 

As Jesus prayed in anticipation of His crucifixion, He became so pressed and stressed that, according to Luke’s gospel, He sweat drops of blood. It should not surprise us that Luke, a physician, makes note of this rare clinical condition that befell Jesus called hematohidrosis, the stress-induced breakdown of small capillaries beneath the skin resulting in the mix of blood and sweat. Jesus was clearly in agony as He prayed. 

 

What should we do when faced with an agonizing situation? First, find a place to pray. Do you have a place like Gethsemane where you can go to get alone with God and pray? Jesus taught His disciples, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret (Matthew 6:6). Second, call upon your trusted prayer partners. Jesus invited three of His disciples – Peter, James, and John – to go deeper into the garden with Him to “watch and pray.” Do you have “go to” people like that in your life? Finally, submit to the Father’s will. Famously, Jesus prayed, “Not my will but yours be done.” 

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