Passover and Gethsemane

Jesus and His disciples gathered in an upper room for the Passover meal. Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him. He shared bread and wine with them, telling them it was His body and His blood. Did they understand that Jesus would become the Passover Lamb, the sacrifice? He told them He was giving them a kingdom. I wonder what the disciples were thinking, as they crossed over the Kidron Valley and went up on the Mount of Olives.

The Kidron Valley lies between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. Here you can see terraces and olive trees.

On the Mount of Olives, in a place called Gethsemane, Jesus spent time praying to His Father. The name “Gethsemane” comes from the Hebrew word for “olive press.” Maybe the place He was accustomed to going to on Olivet was a grove of olive trees, with an olive press.

This is a set of stones from an olive press. After the olives were crushed by the stones, they were placed in bags, and pressed.

Jesus wrestled with accepting the cup that was His to drink. What emotions did He experience, what pressing? It was so much that He sweat drops of blood. How did the angel strengthen Him?

A grove of ancient olive trees on the Mount of Olives

I find it overwhelming, and impossible to really grasp, what all Jesus went through, for me.


Palm Sunday Musings

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This account of our Lord is recorded in all four gospels. Jesus, on the Mount of Olives, gave instructions to two of His disciples to bring a colt for Him to ride. Zechariah prophesied of this in Zechariah 9:9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.

From the Mount of Olives, looking over the Jewish cemetery and the Kidron Valley, to Temple Mount, and the Old City.

Jesus’ riding a donkey that day, and not a horse, shows Him as the Prince of Peace. John, in Revelation, depicts Jesus riding on a white horse, as a conquering King.
The Palm Sunday road follows closely along the side of the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. A high wall protects travelers from accidentally becoming unclean by touching the graves. The road is quite steep; wear good shoes.

Walking down the Palm Sunday road, with the Jewish cemetery on the left.

As Jesus rode toward the city, people threw their garments, and palm branches, on the road in front of Him. They shouted, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!” from Psalm 118.

The traditional site of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem is the Dominus Flevit Church, built in the shape of a tear-drop. Luke, in his detailed, chronological style, gives the account of Jesus drawing near to the City of Jerusalem, and weeping as He saw what would happen to it. Jesus prophesied of a time the city would be surrounded by enemies, and destroyed. The Romans destroyed the city in 70 AD.

It is believed that Jesus entered the city through the Eastern Gate. Other names for this gate are Mercy Gate, and Golden Gate. The current Eastern Gate has been closed for the past 500 years. Since the Jewish belief is that their Messiah will enter the city through the Eastern Gate, Suleiman the Magnificent had it blocked in 1541. The Muslim cemetery outside the gate is to ensure the Messiah will not be clean if he does make it to the gate.

The Eastern Gate, also known as Mercy Gate, and Golden Gate.

Walking down the Palm Sunday road, past the entrance to Dominus Flevit Church, past the Garden of Gethsemane, and toward the city, you can enter through the Lion’s Gate, into the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.

The Lion’s Gate

If you’re interested in learning more about Jerusalem, the land of Israel, and the time Jesus lived there, we invite you to travel with our tour group in November.