Gethsemane in Capernaum
This press was located in a building, not a cave. The pulp from the crusher was put in baskets and placed on the stone base under the large limestone pillar. Note the groove around the outside, which channeled the oil into the pit just to the left. The huge pillar was apparently lifted with a beam like the one on the press to the left, and placed on the olives, squeezing the oil from the fruit. This installation was also a familiar sight to Jesus and his disciples in Galilee, where they lived.
Jesus’ visit to Gethsemane the night before his execution can be symbolized by olive presses like these. The great weight of his imminent crucifixion to pay for the sins of the world, his abandonment by his (sleeping) friends, and the knowledge that he would eventually be rejected by God, his Father, bore down on him. There in Gethsemane, this burden, which he was willing to bear, squeezed from him “sweat” like great drops of blood falling to the ground? (Luke 22:44). The burden, symbolized by the beam of the olive press, was the anointing death made necessary by our sin. We were the burden he bore, and his flowing blood was his “anointing” for us (2 Cor. 1:21).
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