Holy Week Maundy Thursday: Jesus Leads Worship

Posted by Craig Borlase on 2 April 2015

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Somewhere down near the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, there is a ruin. Or, at least, it used to be a ruin. A few years ago it was a pile of rubble and sand-coloured earth, but then the archaeologists arrived with their tools and set to work. 

Today, that ruin has been restored to its former glory. It is an olive press. As tourist attractions go, it’s OK. But there’s more to it than that, especially when you know what these olive presses were called when they were used a couple of thousand years ago. They were called gethsemane. 

By attaching increasingly heavy weights to the levers, exerting greater and greater pressure on the olives, different types of oil was produced; first the lightest, purest oil used for eating, then a heavier grade used for perfume before, finally, with maximum forced and power, the remnants of the olives were crushed to produce the kind of oil that was used in lamps.

Many people think that it was one of these presses, with their heavy weights and massive grinding stones, that Jesus chose to visit the night He was betrayed. 

Jesus chose to spend His final moments in a place where something as sweet and good as olive oil is gained by crushing something that is hard and bitter. He chose to spend his final moments before capture in a place where light, perfume and a beautiful aroma and taste are created through breaking something. 

The Bible is full of beautiful symbolism like this. We see it in the story of the ragtag nomads, slaves and mess-ups that Yahweh chose to  call His people. We see it in the way that our omnipotent God - the all powerful Creator of the universe - chose to come to earth as a homeless, outcast baby. And we see it in the way that one of the most brutal, painful, humiliating deaths led to the most powerful of all rescues. 

And we see it in Abraham with his son stretched out in place of a sacrificial lamb... an act of sacrifice in which the Bible first uses the word we now know as 'worship'. 

Today we remember the crushing of Jesus. Was there ever a greater act if worship?

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