The Great Betrayal

jesus on mount of olivesI’ve moved on with King David in the Bible. He’s king now, an older man with grown sons and daughters. 2 Samuel 15 depicts the way Absalom, David’s son, betrayed him. He hung out at the city gate, listening to people’s possible legal issues. Absalom won the hearts of the people with his smooth words. He manages to stage a coup that has David running for his life – again. He gathers his wives and children and anyone else loyal to him, and sets off.

David walked up the road to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning. And the people who were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the hill. – 2 Samuel 15:30

The significance of this didn’t impact me until this time I read it:  Jesus was betrayed in the same place, hundreds of years later.

The last week of Jesus’ life, he visited the Mount of Olives, a ridge running along the east side of Jerusalem, 3 times. First, he spent time there answering the disciples’ questions about the last days.  You know, the good news about persecution, famine and sword (Matthew 24:1-25:30). The second time, he rode a donkey into Jerusalem while the crowds cheered “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” (Luke 19:38)

The very last time Jesus spent time at Mt. Olivet (another name for the spot) was just after the Last Supper. Jesus went out and spent time wrestling with the taking all the world’s sin upon him. He sweat drops of blood.  He cried out to God to have the cup removed. But then He surrendered. He prayed for those believers who would come after, asking His Father for unity and protection. He walked to the olive garden and awaited the betrayer.

Zechariah says Jesus will return to the same location and split the sky at his Second Coming:  On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west. Half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south (Zech 14:4).

As Easter approaches, I’m reminded again of this truth:  Jesus can redeem our broken places, those sources of bad memories. Jesus’ betrayal on the Mount of Olives reminds us again of the depth of his human experience.  He knows our pains; he experienced them while walking this planet. But in overcoming death and the grave, he is able transform our excruciating mountains of suffering into glory.


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