While growing up, the joy of the annual Easter celebration was the trip to ‘Galilee’ on Easter Monday. It was a day of fun and feasting, spent with family and friends by the lake formed by the university dam at Shika. It was our annual family picnic where we frollicked no holds barred, after weeks of fasting during the lenten season, and going through the poignant rituals of the stations of the cross leading up to Easter Sunday.
Growing up has drained Easter of all that frolic. In its place, now dwells a less boisterous but infinitely more satiating joy of salvation. Galilee means much more to me now than a day of gorging and flinging frisbees by the lake side.
As I sat listening to the Easter sermon in church today, the Holy Spirit began to whisper to me about the journey from Gethsemane through Golgotha and to Galilee.
In celebrating Easter today, Golgotha often takes the centre stage, as we bask in the love of Christ that made him go to the cross for us, and in the power of His ressurection. But today, the Holy Spirit began to nudge me to also pay some attention to Gethsemane, and Galilee.
Indeed there couldn’t have been a Golgotha without Gethsemane. Although his body was crucified at Golgotha, it was at Gethsemane that his flesh was crucified.
Matthew 26:36-46 GNT
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. Grief and anguish came over him,  and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me.”  He went a little farther on, threw himself face downward on the ground, and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.”  Then he returned to the three disciples and found them asleep; and he said to Peter, “How is it that you three were not able to keep watch with me for even one hour?  Keep watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Once more Jesus went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cup of suffering cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”  He returned once more and found the disciples asleep; they could not keep their eyes open.  Again Jesus left them, went away, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.  Then he returned to the disciples and said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The hour has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to the power of sinners.  Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!”
The surrendering of the will, the laying down of the life happened at Gethsemane, Golgotha was merely the outward manifestation of a work that had been completed. Understandably, the brutal beating that our Lord endured on the way to Golgotha is more captivating, but you see, as it says in 1 Cor 13:3, it is entirely possible to give ones body to be destroyed in a self seeking way. All of the suffering that Jesus endured on the way to Golgotha is only meaningful because he was victorious over self at Gethsemane.
I find however that like the apostles who slept while Jesus prayed, I also miss the opportunity of Gethsemane many times. Often, in focusing on the power of his ressurection, I miss out on the fellowship of his suffering; his agony in prayer that made his sweat seem as drops of blood. Too often we skip the private crucifxion of the flesh, and therefore when the public crucifixion of the body comes, we fail. Unlike Him that was like a lamb being led to the slaughter, and remained quiet, when we suffer any perceived injustice or deprivation, we lash out.
I find also that it is the skipping of Gethsemane that blinds us to the purpose of our rendezvous at Galilee. If we fail to crucify the flesh at Gethsemane, we often misappropriate the power of His ressurection when we get to Galilee. For the man who bypasses Gethsemane, Galilee will always be a place of feasting: the entire Christian experience will mean nothing more than apropriating the sacrifice of Golgotha for personal upliftment.
Yet Galilee isn’t merely a party. In fact Galilee is the place where we receive instruction for the highest use of the power of His resurrection.
Matthew 28:10, 16-20 GNT
“Do not be afraid,” Jesus said to them. “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”  The eleven disciples went to the hill in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him, even though some of them doubted.  Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,  and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”
For many a believer today, Gethsemane, Golgotha and Galilee may be no more than mere stops on a tour trail while performing a tourist’s pilgrimage to Israel. In reality, they are the unmissable milestones on our paths as pilgrims. To know the fellowship of his suffering, to know the power of his ressurection, and to tell the world of his goodness.
Gethsemane, Golgotha and Galilee