20 Mar. Luke 19:28,35-40

20 Mar. Jesus descends the Mount of Olives towards Jerusalem

"After Jesus said this, he went on towards Jerusalem... When they [the two followers] brought it [a colt] to Jesus, they threw their coats on the colt's back, and put Jesus on it."

"As Jesus rode towards Jerusalem, others spread their coats on the road before him."

"As he was coming close to Jerusalem, on the way down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of followers began joyfully shouting praise to God for all the miracles they had seen."

"They sang, 'God bless the king who comes in the name of the Lord! There is peace in heaven and glory to God.'"

"Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, 'Teacher, tell your followers not to say these things.' But Jesus answered, 'I tell you, if my followers didn't say these things, then the stones would cry out.'"

          (Luke 19:28,35-40)



In today's reading, Jesus continued his journey along the narrow track which still, today, leads across the side of the Mount of Olives from Bethany and Bethphage down towards Jerusalem.

As he rode along on the colt's back, Jesus's followers and the Jewish holiday crowds assembling for the Passover festival spread palm leaves on the path (see Mark 11:8) and greeted Jesus - whom they recognised as the great rabbi and healer - by singing a popular 'song of ascent', sung by generations of Jewish pilgrims as they travelled up to Jerusalem: “God bless the One who comes in the name of the Lord!” (see Psalm 118:25-26).

Today, visitors to the Mount of Olives can look down over Jerusalem from the very same place where Jesus wept over the city two thousand years ago. (see Luke 19:41) Walking down the hillside on the path followed by Jesus, visitors can enter the tear-shaped chapel of 'Dominus Flevit' (meaning ‘The Lord wept’) built in 1955 by the Italian architect Bertolucci on the site of a 7th century chapel. The four stone jugs on each corner of the building (see the photo) resemble ‘tear jugs’ in which the tears of mourners were collected at a Jewish funeral.

The adjacent slopes of the Kidron Valley facing the Jewish Temple Mount are covered by an extensive Jewish graveyard. Many Jews today ask to be buried at this spot as they believe they will be the first to rise from the dead when the Messiah defeats his enemies on the Mount of Olives and judges them in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (the Kidron Valley) during the 'last days' (see Zechariah 14:3-5 & Joel 3:2).

Beyond the grey onion domes of the 19th century Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene, visitors can look across to the Golden Gate (also called the Gate of Repentance). This gateway, rebuilt in the 7th century, is where many Christians believe that Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey in order to fulfil the Messianic prophesies.

The photo shows the tear-shaped Chapel of Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives above the Old City of Jerusalem.

You can discover more Jerusalem pilgrims' 'songs of ascent' @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/songs-of-praise-and-desp…/.

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