Most of the faith community is by now deep into the Lenten Season. There are numerous writings and commentaries that address this event, for me the Bible tells it best. So…here The Rest of The Story. While the ministry of Jesus covered a great area there is a little circle of great importance to us and certainly was to Jesus, His disciples and friends and family, that somehow get lost in the torrent of words and the history involved to tell the story. These are the three cities that held a prominent place in those closing days of Jesus’ ministry. Jerusalem of course has always been at the forefront but these next two are simply mentioned as points of passing in the story. Those being Bethphage and Bethany. We start with Bethany about a mile or so from Jerusalem on the road to Jericho at the Mount of Olives and the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. It had earned the name of the Judean home of Jesus as it is recorded he preferred to stay there rather than in Jerusalem. It was here that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and being so close to Jerusalem the word spread quickly to the Pharisees at a time when they were much disturbed by his growing influence among the people. It was here also that another event of huge import took place… The Ascension…Luke 24:50,51…And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.”
Now as in all writings of the time there are always other opinions and in this case exact location of Bethany is no exception. What is certain to a reasonable degree is that these events brought this somewhat obscure little place into history. As we move on from Bethany here is a small tidbit as to location taken from got questions.org
“Bethany is today el `Azareyeh (“the place of Lazarus”-the L being displaced to form the article). It is a miserably untidy and tumble-down village facing East on the Southeast slope of the Mount of Olives, upon the carriage road to Jericho. A fair number of fig, almond and olive trees surround the houses. The traditional tomb of Lazarus is shown and there are some remains of medieval buildings, besides rock-cut tombs of much earlier date.”
Now Bethphage, in Aramaic “place of young figs near the Mount of Olives and to the road from Jerusalem to Jericho; mentioned together with Bethany is about a Sabbatical distance from East of Jerusalem,(1/2 mile) and was surrounded by some kind of wall. One distinction the city has is recorded in Matthew 21:1-4 KJV
1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet
In moving on from Bethphage here is another small tidbit from bible.org. Dr. Barclay thought that he had found its site on the rocky s.w. spur of Olivet, a few hundred yards s. of the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. It is shown on Osborn’s map of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, the beginning, where the question of His divinity is answered and the world gets its first glimpse of Christianity…and the road to salvation.I was amazed at the mixture of both fact and tradition as to the “City On The Hill” one name for it, most Christians of the day know it as Jerusalem. We have spent a few words understanding the role that Bethphage and Bethany played on the road to Jerusalem, now what about Jerusalem or Zion? Matthew 23:37 KJV “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stones them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
Most folks of the faith know well the role of this city not only in the life Jesus but also in Jewish history and through the years to come it will become a location of different religions and cultures. I felt like I had opened an area of extensive history and that as a layman I was overwhelmed. So… keep it simple and to the point. Zion, a name applied to Jerusalem, or to certain parts of it, at least since the time of David. There is a suggestion in Arabicas to a visual meaning that fits it location…”ridge of a mountain” or “citadel,” which at any rate suitably applies to what we know to have been the original Zion.(Bible Atlas). In keeping this simple there are at least five more reasons that we can accept Zion as Jerusalem. The Bible evidence that Zion originally occupied this site is clear. The biblealtas.org also adds this… ZION, literally it was the largest southern hill of Jerusalem, but sometimes the word was used to mean the whole city. See Sion.
It has been said about a journey that it is what happens along the way that matters… Jesus knew where this journey would take him and we see in these towns so often overlooked that the Father had prepared the way for his Son. May God bless all the journeys in your life and may the paths always lead to Him.
Life is Good