Life is marked with challenges. I will be the first to say that my life has had its share of them. I’ve found myself in seasons of pressure so heavy that I felt suffocated by it all. There were days I wish had a remote to pick up and pause life for a moment to catch my breath. It has been just that intense at times. As I reflect upon Resurrection Sunday last week and all of the events that led up to the death of Jesus, I can’t help but think about all the pressure that He faced. He came to save people who didn’t want to be saved. People who were guilty by all means and had every right to receive the penalty of death they deserved.
Certainly, Jesus may have felt the same way I felt the night of His arrest. He was not only carrying the burden of His on emotions but the weight of the world was literally on His shoulders. What did He do? He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. While researching this garden, I found it interesting that Gethsemane actually means “oil press” and is located at the bottom of the Mount of Olives. In biblical times, the oil press consisted of large stones being rolled over olives to get the oil out of them and make them useful. This moment is significant because it gives us a glimpse into the state of Jesus’ heart that night. It shows the degree of His suffering on our behalf. Luke 22:44 even goes on to say that in His anguish, He prayed until His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. It’s hard for me to even imagine myself in His position. It almost makes me ashamed about how I felt during my trials compared to what He experienced. On the other hand, it provides insight into my own suffering and its necessity.
Jesus’ moment on the “olive press” marked the pouring of Himself out to the Father in preparation of fulfilling His purpose. He had to release all that was in Him to be able to move forward towards the cross. Likewise, the olive tree symbolizes why our hearts must be “crushed” or “pressed”. First of all, our heart must be crushed to be fruitful. Like olives on the press, we have to go through periods of hardship and relief to produce spiritual fruit. Periods of suffering tend to have that effect on us. Some things within us would never develop had it not been for the crushing. In biblical times, the crushing or the pressing was also a means of preservation. If we plan to be able to withstand the winds of life and win this race of faith, we have to be willing to be pressed. The most valuable parts of us, the “oil” can only be extracted as a result of the crushing. Oil is what keeps our lamps burning so God can light our paths.
Ultimately, crushing doesn’t destroy the olive. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed”. When we come to understand that the crushing is for our good, we will begin to ask God what He is trying to get out of instead of wishing to not be pressed at all. As Jesus allowed His heart to be crushed in the garden, He was allowing the Father to release His anointing oil to flow onto Him and through Him. We should desire the same. Let our response during these times be the same as Jesus’, “Nevertheless, let thy will be done”. When God’s anointing oil flows in our lives, it’s like the oil from Aaron’s beard and flows unto everyone we come in contact with so they can be blessed as well.
I wanted to close by sharing a few words from “Greater Is Coming” by Jekalyn Carr.
An olive has to go through three stages, for its oil to run:
It has to go through the shaking, the beating, and the pressing
And just like the olive, some of you may have felt like you go through the shaking, the beating and the pressing.
You’ve gone through all of that for your oil to flow
Now, your greater is coming…
If it had not been for the shaking,
I never would have been ready for the making, no
If it had not been for the beating,
I would have never known how anointed I would be.
If it had not been for the pressing,
I wouldn’t be able to walk into my destiny.
He’s preparing me, preparing me, preparing me for greater…