The Mount of Olives
“He led them out as far as Bethany…. And while He blessed them, He parted from them and was carried up into Heaven.” Luke 24:50-51
The area referred to in this verse is the Mount of Olives where Jesus spent the last minutes on earth with His disciples. This is such a fitting place for the end because of the Biblical significance of this Mount (800 meters) which overlooked the old city and all its surroundings. It was breathtaking. In addition to the expanse of olive trees, there was the brook Cedron and the famous garden of Gethsemane. It was a beautiful natural sanctuary where Jesus went often with His disciples to teach, and pray. But sometimes Jesus went there alone to talk to His Father.
In spite of its beauty and tranquility, the Mount of Olives became the battleground for the forces of Good and Evil. This had been prophesied hundreds of years before by Zechariah (Ch.14:3-4). On that last night as Jesus experienced the most bitter of agonies in this sanctuary, Satan showed up with Judas and heavily armed officers. Jesus’ inward struggle was only the beginning. The soldiers approached and it was Jesus who first spoke: “Who are you looking for?” and so awesome and haunting was His voice and presence that the soldiers fell speechless to the ground. Peter cut off the ear of Malchus, but Jesus healed him and explained to Peter that it was not in God’s plan. Jesus would be victorious but without the sword and violence. His crucifixion and resurrection would signal the ultimate defeat of evil and mankind’s freedom and victory over sin. In Ezekiel’s vision, the Mount was where he saw “the glory of the Lord.” (Ch.11:23).
We should not be surprised that Satan showed up in such a place. Remember St. Peter’s warning that “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walks about seeking whom he may devour” (1Peter 5:8). Therefore Peter writes “Be sober, be vigilant.” And let us especially remember that it was in in that same Garden that Jesus said repeatedly to His disciples: “Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation.” Watch and pray!! Al Jones