Mountain Tops and Eternity.
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I love being in the mountains - there is just something
about it. Ruggedness, sometimes with snow-laden trees, oft grandeur, the variation in topography in
general . . . the air, the beauty, the animals.
Mountains often represent retreat . . . solace, too. In a week or so, I am speaking at a retreat in the Los Angeles mountains. So excited. The process of 'coming away' is oft unique to retreat settings. And sometimes when we get away from home and work, we can be a little more real, a little more raw with God ... and we have 'mountain top experiences,' times where we really grow.
Ah, going to the mountain. Apparently, Jesus loved it too, as he made many visits to the Mount of Olives, one of the places he liked to get by himself and pray when he was in and around Jerusalem. Three times in his last week, Jesus visited his beloved mount, each of the visits rife with emotion.
First, Jesus delivered his prophetic 'Olivet Discourse' on the Mt. of Olives; next, Jesus makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday, to shouts and cheers. Paved now, it winds its way down and across the Kidron Valley into the Old City of Jerusalem. (a Sabbath's Day walk)
Of that event, John wrote, "Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it..." riding through shouts and cheers. This was done in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9: "Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." Wow, Zechariah wrote this more than 500 years before Jesus made that ride on the donkey!
Jesus' third visit to the Mt. of Olives was on the night he was betrayed. That evening began with the
Passover meal in Jerusalem, where Jesus washed his disciples' feet, and ended in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. [Luke 22, John 13]
while not the exact trees, the grove looked something like this ----->
After Jesus prayed and agonized in the Garden, Judas Iscariot arrived with a multitude of soldiers, high priests, Pharisees, and servants to arrest Jesu Jesus faced torture and several mock trials, while the disciples scattered in fear for their lives.
After his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus once again returned to the Mount of Olives. Along with several of his disciples, Jesus went "out to the vicinity of Bethany, [and] he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy." [Acts 1.12 records Jesus' ascension into Heaven as having been from the Mt. of Olives.]
♢Note: the last place where Jesus stood was on the Mt. of Olives.
Immediately following Jesus' ascension, two angels told the disciples on the Mount of Olives that "this same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
According to the prophet Zechariah, Jesus will return not only in the same way, but to the same place in a prophecy related to the end times, (Zechariah 14:4).
♢Note: the next place where Jesus will stand is on the Mt. of Olives. The place where Jesus was betrayed and rejected, the mount from which he last had his feet on the ground - the Mt. of Olives - will be the place where Jesus returns in triumph! Aye, the most spectacular event of all history will take place on this spot...the Mt. of Olives... affecting every person who has ever and will ever live on Earth, which includes you and me.
Paul emphasizes that "The Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven and we Christians will meet him in the air. 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17
This is epic and of an epoch, Friends, because you and I live in the epoch between Jesus' feet being on the ground on the Mt. of Olives. The next time Jesus' feet are on the beloved mountain, we are going home for all eternity.
I'm wondering, how much time do you spend thinking about eternity? Hmmm...?
One thing I know - it is my prayer to hear him say two words to me: Well done!