Summary: Holy Week or Easter or even the Sunday after Easter. The Easter story is not just about the death, crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Christ. It is ultimately about the Second Coming of Christ.
Return to the Mount of Olives
“And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the Mount of Olives.” Luke 21:37
Intro: Today we are going to talk about the Return to the Mount of Olives. Just east of the Holy City of Jerusalem is the Mount of Olives. It is a brisk 25 minute walk from along the Palm Sunday route with its panoramic view of the Old City, down the hill, passing the Garden of Gethsemane and across the Kidron Valley, thru the Eastern Gate and up the winding street to the place of the Holy Temple.
The Mount of Olives is one of the most important mountains in the New Testament. It is the place where Jesus preached his "Sermon on the Mount." It is the place of many familiar teachings. It is the traditional site for Jesus' ascension back into heaven. It is the place where Jesus stood and viewed all Jerusalem in front of him and the bible says Jesus wept over the city.
This Greek word “eklausen” for wept (Strong’s 2799) means “sobbed, out loudly, to wail rather than cry silently. See Luke 19:41 “As they came closer to Jerusalem and Jesus saw the city ahead, he began to cry.”
In John 11:35 as in the account of the death of Lazarus: the word wept is different in the Greek (dakruo) Strong’s 1145 “to shed tears.” Jesus shed tears at the discovery of the death of Lazarus.
But Jesus sobbed out loud, he wailed, he made a long high-pitched mournful cry as to express pain, and grief, as he Jesus knew that those who would shout Hosanna, at his triumphal entry, will quickly reject their king and savior and shout crucify him. Eternal life is within their reach but only a few will understand and accept it. Here these tears of Jesus are of eternal importance.
Life is full of moments of both laughter and crying. How often have you heard both at a funeral home? Or when talking with someone who has received a phone call with bad news and you are trying to console them. Grief reveals itself thru both tears of sorrow and moments of happiness. We find comfort and release as we celebrate the highs and lows of life through tears of sadness and tears of joy. Humor is important in life but so are tears.
The Mount of Olives is associated with many patriarchal and historical events throughout the ancient times of Israel and the Jewish people. Something else about the Mount of Olives that I want to touch on near the end of the sermon is that along the southern part of the Mount of Olives is a Jewish cemetery that is over 3000 years old with an estimated over 150,000 graves.
So it is no accident that during the week of the celebration of the Passover, after visiting the temple and spending time with the priests and teaching at the market place and talking with the people at the end of the day Jesus returns to spend the nights on the Mount of Olives.
It is by design that Jesus returns the Mount of Olives. It is a place where Jesus talked with God, and agonized and there was a lot of weeping and wrestling in prayer and it was the place where he received confirmation that his death was to come. It is the location of the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would pray on that most notably night of his betrayal and arrest.
There is so much significance about what happens on the Mount of Olives, including that this is where Jesus tells us about his Second Coming. Matthew 24:3 “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when these things will be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
The Easter story is not just about the death, crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Christ. It is ultimately about the Second Coming of Christ.
Jesus is sitting on the Mt. of Olives where Zechariah prophesied in Zechariah 14:5 “Then the Lord my God will come, and all his holy ones with him.” This prophecy told some 500 years earlier is a foreshadowing of the crucifixion of Jesus.
But listen closely, when we look in Acts 1:11 an angel of the Lord appears on the Mount of Olives after Jesus’ resurrection and at his ascension back up into heaven and promised “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.” This is a promise about Jesus at his Second Coming at the end of the age.