The Mount of Olives has always been a special place in the area around Jerusalem. It is mentioned only twice in the Old Testament; once in an enigmatic passage in Zechariah 14:4 that is beyond the scope of my article.
But the other time hit me right between the eyes. Indeed, the only other time the Mount of Olives appears in the Old Testament is in 2 Samuel 15:30:
But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot.
After a series of bad choices on David’s part the king was overwhelmed by a sense of resignation and defeat. He had became detached and distant from his family at a great cost. The end result at the time of this passage is when his beloved son, Absalom, usurped his father’s kingdom and declared himself king.
Rather than resist his son, David finds himself moving out of Jerusalem in exile, taking along his clan of followers with him, weeping all along the way. It is in that setting that we find David…head covered…barefoot…walking up to the Mount of Olives…weeping.
The king David, weeps over the sin of his beloved child and walks to the mount, broken-hearted.
Fast forward about 1,000 years and we return to the frequent meeting place of our Lord, the Mount of Olives, mentioned more than ten times in the gospels. We’ll focus primarily upon Matthew’s account.
In Matthew 21:1, Jesus sends His disciples from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem to prepare the way for his entry into the city on a donkey, proclaimed by the crowds to be “The Son of David.”
Praise God! Hosanna! The King Has Come!
In Matthew 24:3 Jesus is on the Mount of Olives instructing His disciples about the events that are to come. These observations include the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Roman armies of Titus in 70 AD and His second coming that will happen on a day that only the Father knows.
Judgment Day. The King will come again.
Finally, we find Jesus at the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30ff) immediately following His final supper with his disciples before His betrayal and crucifixion. Three times he appeals to His Father to take the cup of suffering away that He is about to drink. Falling, face-down into the dust, the Son takes on the mantle of our sin as His Father assures Him that this is His will; this is the only way.
On the Mount of Olives The King weeps over the weight of our sin before His Father who will leave Him to face death alone in His darkest hour (Matthew 27:45-46)…much like David who, when he is informed of the death of his son, Absalom, cries out:
“O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33).
Perhaps it is not too remarkable that within sight of the crest of the Mount of Olives is the city of Jerusalem. When Abraham walked the earth it is believed to be the place where he would guide His son in obedience to a God who dared to ask him to sacrifice his son of promise, Isaac (Genesis 22).
There is something special about the Mount of Olives….