Every where you go in Israel, you find groves of Olive trees. They are part of the culture and history of this country. If you go all the way back to when Moses received the Law, you will find that olive oil was used in anointing, in offerings and in the lighting of the lamp stand that stood in the Temple. Leviticus 14:24 says, “The priest will take the lamb for the guilt offering, along with the olive oil, and lift them up as a special offering to the Lord” (NLT). Just like in the Old Testament, olive oil was a part of the offering Jesus made for our guilt.
Gethsemane means, “Oil pressing”. When Jesus prayed in the garden, we know that He was being pressed by the weight of the situation. He knew that He was about to be betrayed and handed over to be killed. He knew He would feel the stinging of the whip, the piercing of the nails and the crushing of the weight of our sin on Him. The Bible says He sweat drops of blood that night as He prayed because He was being pressed so hard. The oil from the pressing that night was the special offering because it was the first pressing that would have been used to light the lamp in the Temple.
Today, you and I are the light of the world. We must keep ourselves filled with the oil of being in His presence so our lives can burn bright until He comes. When we spend time in prayer and in His Word, we keep oil in our lamps. If your lamp is running low on oil, then take time to get a refill from God by spending time in His presence. We can’t afford to run out of oil that was paid for with such a high price. Our lives are to be living sacrifices that are pleasing to God. Your guilt is gone through Jesus’ sacrifice, so lift up your life now as a special offering and keep it lit with His oil.
Nazareth Village is in the town of Nazareth and recreates what life was like for Jesus here He grew up. We watched them make yarn from the sheep they were raising and learned how they would color it. We watched a man crush wheat on a threshing floor and saw the tools used to separate the wheat from the chaff. We also saw an olive oil press that was very similar to what would have been used in that time.
The guide showed us how they would put the olives in the press, roll the millstone to crush them, take baskets woven from wool to scoop up the olives, set them on top of each other, and let the oil drain. He said this was the purest oil and would have been offered to God. The color was the clearest and would have tasted the best. We would refer to this as virgin olive oil in our world. It’s what comes naturally from crushing the olives.
Next, he showed how they would use a leaver to lift heavy stones and a pole to crush the olives more. This heavy stone pressed the olives harder than the millstone and squeezed out oil. This oil was what was sold and used in every day cooking or for perfume. After that, they would move the baskets a little further in the press where they could exert even greater pressure. The oil that came from this pressing was typically dirty and what was used to put in oil lamps to light houses.
After he showed us this, he reminded us that Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane (translated the olive press) to pray the night He would be handed over to the authorities. In Luke 26:38 Jesus said, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me” (GNT). He was like an olive being crushed in that place. The pressure became so great that by the third time (the hardest press) He went to pray, Luke 22:44 says, “In great anguish he prayed even more fervently; his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Isaiah 53:5 described what was going on in the Garden of the Olive Press. It says, “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (NLT). Jesus withstood excruciating pain for our sins. The oil (blood) that came out was holy and offered to God for our sins. It was pure and very costly. A price and suffering He willingly endured in order to pay for our sins. A sacrifice so great demands our heart, our soul, and our life.