Holy Week, Bethphage, Bethany, Jerusalem, Mount of Olives and Gethsemane, all places that are familiar to Christians. But we often scan over these places having read or heard the story of the resurrection many times.This in not to imply a lack of reverence for what our Lord did for us but a human condition I call casual awareness. It is estimated that in the three years of his ministry Jesus walked 3,125 miles. Now I don’t intend to get into a geography lesson but this is important…It was an hostile land, heat, cold and dry, rough terrain in which bandits and other hazards were common. Also consider that at different times Jesus avoided certain areas because it was not his time for confrontation, he did so by taking the long way round for example. While the exact order of events during Holy Week are at times debatable by many biblical scholars, I chose the timing of the events from an article by Mary Fairchild. This blog I guess is really about the places Jesus walked the last few days of his life.
We will start with the village of Bethphage, from where Jesus sent his disciples to find a colt upon which he would ride into Jerusalem. Bethphage was close to Bethany, where he would stay Palm Sunday Night. In the Gospel of Luke 19:33, Jesus’ disciples were allowed to take the colt away for Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.The gospel timeline indicates this would have been four days before Passover. There is an annual Palm Sunday walk into Jerusalem which begins here in Bethphage. One more interesting point…Eusebius, Bishop and church historian of Caesaria located Bethpage on the Mount of Olives, about 2 miles from Jerusalem. (Lauren Shelton 2016)
Bethany was the home of Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. Jesus was a guest in their home many times. It was here in Bethany that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Many people were witness to that and because it was so close to Jerusalem the news spread quickly to the Jewish leaders there, who now became even more driven to do something about this Jesus’ problem. It was here that Jesus spent the night on Palm Sunday.
So far we have been following Jesus’ way to the cross and our next look will be the Mount of Olives located on a mountain ridge east of and adjacent to Jerusalem’s Old City. Here Jesus delivered the Olivet Discourse, which you can find in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. It is simple to just say in this discourse Jesus speaks to the near and far future of the church.
Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives. It was of course the place where Jesus was arrested the night before his crucifixion. Some of the scholars and commentaries have shared this…I am open to being corrected but I will pass those things written on to you. Gethsemane was a private garden owned by a group of wealthy people in Jerusalem and there was a wine press there in Jesus’ time. Jesus was not alone, besides the inner circle of the twelve he had a loyal following which included a few wealthy people of that time. The story goes that Jesus had access to the Garden and went there often to pray. On that night after the Passover meal they went out to the Mount of Olives and:
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38 Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” 39 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial;[e] the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
Jerusalem was of course another place Jesus walked on the way to the cross. While it might seem strange all of these places other than Jerusalem were rather ordinary villages in this small area that played a part in the resurrection of Jesus…Bethany where Jesus and the disciples rested was just a little poor village on the side of the road, containing 6 or 7 dwellings. Image that these last few days were just ordinary in their world at this time…it all came down to a few days, five places and a donkey that brought the promise and the prophecy was fulfilled to the world that day.
Life is Good