After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
John 18: 1-3
What had been for Jesus a place of retreat became a place of confrontation and arrest. Into this peaceful olive grove came soldiers with torches, lanterns and weapons. I can imagine how their arrival shattered the quiet.
Jesus and his disciples were drawn to this place and probably felt a peace wash over them each time they came there. They may have recalled earlier visits, things Jesus said there, or even the way the grove looked in different seasons. With this event, however, the way they saw the grove would be forever changed. They would find their memories of this place dominated by the events of this one evening and I imagine they would have to eventually find new places of retreat, places where new memories could be made.
That Jesus came to the olive grove knowing what he knew would happen this night, makes me wonder about his motivation to be found here by Judas and his entourage of soldiers. Was it for him a way of drawing into himself one final time the peace this place symbolized? Maybe Jesus knew he needed his final moments of freedom to be in a place he loved.
The way this place would change for the disciples is symbolic of the way their ministry would change. The familiar rhythm would no longer be possible. New rhythms would be needed. New places for rest and teaching would need to be found and the disciples would become the teachers, the disciple-makers for others.
The olive grove had been a place of comfort, growth and ultimately confrontation with the world. Yet it was because of what had happened in the grove before this night that the disciples would be able to overcome this night and move forward.
In my own life, I may also experience upheaval of what is familiar and comforting. I hope that in those times, I can draw on the former experiences of growth and comfort and thus be able to move forward into new experiences and find new rhythms for my life.