Famous paintings of Jesus at Gethsemane
Questions for Bible study groups
- Look at the paintings of Jesus’ Agony, below. Which one appeals to you most? Why?
- How is Jesus portrayed in these paintings?
- Does this image of Jesus fit with your personal image of Jesus? Why? Why not?
- See Hidden Meanings at the bottom of this page.
After the Last Supper, Jesus and three of his closest friends went into an olive garden outside the walls of Jerusalem. Jesus knew he faced a terrible ordeal and, while his friends slept, he prayed to be spared. His prayer strengthened him and he was able to accept his future, placing his faith in God.
Hidden meanings in the paintings of Jesus
- Peter is shown as grey-haired with a curly beard and perhaps a sword (in anticipation of his cutting off the servant’s ear); James who has dark hair and a beard; John, the youngest, with long hair sometimes down to his shoulders.
- Many paintings merge the Agony with the Betrayal – look for a group of approaching figures in the background. These are soldiers led by Judas.
- Paintings of the Agony suggest that Jesus saw his future all too clearly. They sometimes show an angel offering him the instruments of torture.
- Hebrew Gat Shemanim (Gethsemane) means ‘oil press’. The garden was an olive grove.
- ‘Agony’ is the spiritual struggle between the two sides of Jesus’ nature, the human that feared suffering and wanted to avoid it, the divine that gave him strength:
- In early examples we may see, instead of the angel, the head of God the Father or his symbol, a right hand pointing out of a cloud.