Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane . . . he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. . . . he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26: 36-39)
And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:44)
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
After he has suffered he will see the light of life and be satisfied . . . (Isa. 53:4-5, 11)
It means “oil press,” and being on the Mount of Olives, it was probably one of many sites of the machinery used to extract oil from olives.
The process was two-fold. In the first stage, a large stone was rolled over the olives to crush them. Then they were moved to another machine, where a great weight was lowered onto a basket of crushed olives and pressed down until the oil flowed freely into a basin below. The resulting oil was not only golden in color, but of enormous worth to the life and economy of the community. It was used medicinally and in food; to cook food, light lamps, make soap, and in sacred ceremonies. In the Middle East, it was indeed an “essential oil.”
When Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion, He began the kind of suffering I can only imagine, crushed and pressed to the point He feared He couldn’t endure. To sweat blood is an extremely rare medical phenomenon that happens under the most extreme stress, causing the capillaries around the sweat glands to break and leak blood.
Jesus knew this was only the beginning of His suffering. Earlier, He had nonetheless set His face like flint for His last journey to Jerusalem. He was prepared to undergo every kind of humiliation and torture to complete the purpose of His incarnation. But at Gethsemane, the full weight of the unimaginable agony of complete separation from His Father was a cup He felt unable to drink. It was the worst, most devastating pain He would have to face, and one He had never undergone before. It meant He would experience the reality of hell on earth while it was taking place. But, because it would free all who would come to believe from the hell of eternal separation from God, He drew strength from the angel God sent, and rose to complete His purpose.
Jesus was crushed for my iniquity. As He hung on the cross, unable to support His own weight, it pressed inexorably on His heart and lungs, literally squeezing the life out of Him. Out of that crushing, that pressing, came the purest oil of blessing the world would ever know.
It is the oil that is essential to salvation both now and for all eternity. It is the oil of joy that comes from faith and life in Jesus.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me. because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners . . . to comfort all who mourn . . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (Isa. 61:1-3)