I often reflect on the Atonement Jesus made for us, and enjoy digging through articles, books and scriptures for more information about it. I really didn't know much about what had happened when He prayed in Gethsemane. I knew He had asked the eight Apostles to wait near the entrance, and took Peter, James and John further into the garden with Him. Admonishing them to watch and pray, He advanced a "stone's throw" beyond them, and knelt and prayed. In the record He prayed three times, twice returning to wake the Apostles, and asking them to pray with Him. The third time He told them to sleep on-until the traitor, Judas, arrived to betray Him.
I knew there must be more that happened, but how could I discover what it was? The records of Mathew, Mark, and Luke are second hand because Matthew never went beyond the entrance, and Mark and Luke had not yet been called as Apostles. John who did go into the garden, but says nothing at all about anything that happened until Judas arrived. I determined to dig in the scriptures for references, prophecies, or types that pointed to Gethsemane, and try to infer from them what happened.
I find that taking the scriptures literally gives me ideas to sketch and to paint that taking them metaphorically didn't even hint at. It became a process of finding new questions I wanted answers to. The following are some of the questions, and some of the answers I came up with.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Entering Gethsemane-Night of Terror

After the “Last Supper” observing the Passover in the upper room, Jesus felt heavy and led his Apostles to the Garden of Gethsemane over the bridge across the Kidron Valley to the east where He could be alone and pray.  The Passover is always celebrated at the full moon at the end of March and beginning of April, and the night was cold (see John 18:18).  Ancient manuscripts and stone foundations discovered at the bottom of several exploratory shafts dug in the mid nineteenth century offer evidence of a high narrow stone bridge crossing the Kidron Valley at the time of Christ.  At that time to even walk near a grave site was to be defiled and required ritual cleansing by the Priest.  Graves, both marked and unmarked, littered the bottom of the Valley.  The history of Jerusalem is a violent succession of conquerors for thousands of years.  Even when it stood as an independent state there was constant fighting and bloodshed.  The bottom of the Valley seemed to accumulate layers of the dead almost in proportion to the layers of broken stones and debris used by attacking armies to lay siege to the walls of Jerusalem. It would have been unthinkable to subject the olive oil and wine to be used in the Temple to such pollution!  So, according to the texts, a high, narrow stone bridge was built by the priests to provide a way to preserve the purity of the essential oils and wines as they were transported to the Temple.  This is the last of many of my own paintings featuring that bridge, and even this painting has been “updated” seven or eight times to more accurately depict discoveries my friends and I have made in the last few months. Special thanks to Dr. Vern Swanson of the Springville Museum of Art for his many contributions. I expect that there remain errors to be corrected in a subsequent work as more and more is learned about the time of the Atonement. 

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