Visiting the Holy Land: The Mount of Olives

July 11, 2011

On a cool, windy March morning this Spring, ourIsrael tour group stood at a vantage point near the top of the Mount of Olives and looked across the KidronValley at Jerusalem.  The Mount of Olives is the middle peak of the ridge just east of Jerusalem, which rises 200 feet higher in elevation than where the Temple mount would have been in the first century A.D.

If not at the exact place, we were very close to where Jesus began his descent down the west side of the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem on the original Palm Sunday in what is traditionally known as the “Triumphal Entry.”  Since Jesus knew that He was going to Jerusalem to die on the Cross a few days later, standing at the place was an eerie experience.

As we walked down a path that approximates Jesus’ route that day, I imagined the shouts of those who accompanied him from nearby Bethpage (which was located near the Mount of Olives; Matthew 21:1) and those rushing out from Jerusalem to meet Him: “Hosanna to the Son of David!  He who comes in the name of the Lord is the Blessed One!” (i.e., the Messiah or Christ; Matthew 21:9).

Two other important things happened regarding Jesus on the Mount of Olives shortly after the Triumphal Entry: 1) Before being betrayed by Judas, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36), on the side of theMount of Olives (26:30), to pray.  Interestingly, there remain olive trees where the garden probably was that are at least 2,000 years old, meaning they could have been there when Jesus was; and 2) After the Cross and the Resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-12).

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