Friends, Jesus came to earth on a very specific mission, and He fulfilled it in one week that changed history. As a Jew, Jesus made dozens of trips to Jerusalem for feasts and festivals…all of which paint a picture of the Messiah. But one Passover was different, as the Messiah became the sacrificial lamb that takes away the sin of the whole world. His final Passover trip to Jerusalem is well documented in the Gospels, and I’m going to do my best to make some of those passages come alive as we travel together through Passion Week.
Remember that Jesus would have traveled from the Galilee area “up to Jerusalem,” which was about a 70 mile trek. When he arrived in the area, He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11), and later had supper in Bethany with His close friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus (John 12). The stage is set at the Mount of Olives. (See yesterday’s post.)
Matthew 21:1-17 and Luke 19:29-44 tell us what happened the next day. According to Scripture, Jesus gave specific instruction to two of His disciples to go get a colt (or a donkey), and He made what is known as His “Triumphant Entry” into Jerusalem. Imagine Jesus riding that colt from here on the Mount of Olives, down through the Kidron Valley, and entering Jerusalem as a sacrificial lamb through the Sheep Gate, to the right (north) of the Eastern Gate pictured here. Imagine, also, a beautiful, huge temple rising off the top of Temple Mount.
At one point after entering Jerusalem, He cleared the money changers from the Temple. The Temple obviously no longer exists, but can you imagine those money changers set up here in the courtyards…and Jesus scattering their goods when He overturned tables!?! (This picture is from the model city at the Israel Museum.)
Throughout that week, Jesus taught in and around the Temple area, as well as on the Mount of Olives, teaching His disciples key things about end times (among other things). Matthew 24, for example.
After weeping over Jerusalem, spending time teaching His disciples, and preparing for what laid ahead, it was on the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane, that the full weight of the curse of our sin began to be born upon our Savior when He went there to pray.
And it was here that Judas betrayed Jesus and He was arrested.
This is the beginning of the week that changed history. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at locations where Jesus was on trial. Stay tuned!