19 Apr All Nations | Reflections from Israel
Upon returning from our recent trip to Israel, I have frequently been asked, “What was the one thing that was most impactful for you on the trip?” My answer has been consistent: it would have to be the time we spent in the Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives. And here’s why.
During the first half of our ten-day trip touring Israel, we spent time in Caesarea (on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea), the Sea of Galilee (which is actually a large freshwater lake) and surrounding areas, and the Dead Sea before arriving in Jerusalem for the second half of our trip. Our first stop in Jerusalem was the Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives where we had an opportunity to worship together and take communion. Afterwards, we each had a good 30 minutes of time to reflect, pray, or read Scripture alone within the walls of the garden. Surrounded by olive trees, I found a quiet spot to spend time with the Lord. As I reflected on my experience in Israel so far, I had actually begun feeling a growing sense of disconnect having been immersed in a foreign culture learning all about Jewish history, geography, and religion that goes back thousands of years. Back home in South Carolina, the farthest back I knew about my own ancestors or heritage is that I had a great-great-great grandfather who was a captain in the Confederate Army, and I think he was Presbyterian. That’s hard to compare to being a descendent of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob like all of the Jewish people I was learning about.
During this time of solitude in the garden, I began to confess this sense of disconnect (or personal question of, “Is this really for me?”) to the Lord, and then I began to read. I started in Matthew 26 after Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper and then took His disciples to the Mount of Olives and to a place called Gethsemane, the very place that I was sitting. As I continued to read, I got all the way to the end of Chapter 28, and then I read a passage that I’ve read at least 100 times, but it felt like I was reading it for the first time.
“I’m the recipient of what Jesus commanded His disciples to do almost 2,000 years ago, and I have been grafted into what Jesus has been doing throughout history.”
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:16-20
When I read the words, “all nations,” the words stood out to me as if I had never read them before. “All nations” includes me. In that moment, I realized in a new way that what Jesus had done was for me too. I’m the recipient of what Jesus commanded His disciples to do almost 2,000 years ago, and I have been grafted into what Jesus has been doing throughout history. I am a part of “all nations.” Now, as a disciple of Jesus myself, I have the same responsibility of going, making disciples, baptizing, and teaching others. And most encouraging of all, Jesus is with me. As a reader of this article, if you are a follower of Jesus this Easter season, remember you are a part of “all nations”— you are in the downline of what Jesus has been doing, and Jesus is with you too.