Just outside the Garden of Gethsemane and near the place where Christ is supposed to have uttered the last prayer is a large natural rock. Upon this bowlder, at the bottom of the Mount of Olives, Christ leaned for support and rest. There is no stronger support for this than tradition, but this is sufficient to draw pilgrims to it by the thousand.
We were here during the Greek Easter, and crowds of people were passing and repassing. We stood for a long time and watched them pass this rock. They were mainly members of the Greek Church from Russia, but coming near this stone they would bend over and kiss it with the deepest manifestation of affection. Often tears would fall on the rock along with the kisses of devotion. It was not a scene to witness without tears. It was an object lesson that appealed to the very depths of sentiment. It helped one to see what a hold Christ had upon the hearts of weary, burdened passengers from time to eternity.
The writer and the artist were here on the 28th of April, 1894. When the suggestion was made that a view of the rock would be interesting, the artist replied that it might be interesting from the sacred reverence with which the people regarded it, but as a picture he considered that it would not be attractive at all. So you see that it is only a small barren rock. It is not more than ten feet long and four feet high. Seen out of relation and association with the life and agony of Jesus Christ, it is without interest. Simply because Christ is thought to have seen it and leaned upon it when the weight and guilt of the world’s sin was breaking His heart, it is embalmed forever in the affections of the Christian world. All its significance comes from the fact that the loving and fainting Christ stood by it. What is true of this rock is true of this sacred land – it maintains its hold upon the human imagination because of its relation to Christ.
Vincent, John, James Lee and R. E. M. Bain. Earthly Footsteps of The Man of Galilee and the Journeys of His Apostles. New York, NY;St. Louis, MO: N. D. Thompson Publishing Co., 1894.