Sunday, December 25, 2016

Reflections on Christmas: The Olive Press

We saw olive trees everywhere in Israel. They are interesting trees, with uniquely shaped trunks. They live for hundreds and even thousands of years. Olive oil is a nearly perfect food, and is highly prized for its healing properties. 

In the past, olives were picked by hand and dropped on cloth on the ground, then gathered for pressing.

The first pressing was to be used in the temple, the second pressing was for consumption, and the third and final pressing was fuel for heating, cooking and light.

Friend-husband and I in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Elder Todd Christopherson said, "Let us consider the cost of God’s precious love. Jesus revealed that to atone for our sins and redeem us from death, both physical and spiritual, His suffering caused Himself, “even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that [He] might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink. 

"His agony in Gethsemane and on the cross was greater than any mortal could bear. Nevertheless, because of His love for His Father and for us, He endured, and as a consequence, He can offer us both immortality and eternal life.

'It is poignantly symbolic that “blood [came] from every pore” as Jesus suffered in Gethsemane, the place of the olive press. 

"To produce olive oil in the Savior’s time, olives were first crushed by rolling a large stone over them. The resulting “mash” was placed in soft, loosely woven baskets, which were piled one upon another. Their weight expressed the first and finest oil. 

"Then added stress was applied by placing a large beam or log on top of the stacked baskets, producing more oil. 

"Finally, to draw out the very last drops, the beam was weighted with stones on one end to create the maximum, crushing pressure. 

"And yes, the oil is blood red as it first flows out."

This ancient dead olive tree was moved to the BYU Jerusalem Center because of its interesting and beautiful trunk. Some time later the "dead" trunk began to grow new branches. You might say the tree was resurrected.

I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.  John 5:21.