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Sorrow and Glory at Olivet

Written by | March, 2012
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One can hardly envision entering the season of Lent without contemplating again the events that occurred on the Mount of Olives, for that is where the Lord began the suffering of His final hours.
That is where His passive obedience took root–in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The first biblical reference to Olivet1 is in connection with our Lord’s lesser father–King David. A thousand years earlier, Israel’s second king–a forepicture of Christ–was forced to flee Jerusalem for his life (2 Samuel 15:30). David’s son Absalom had conspired and rebelled against his father, and the king was forced to make the journey down into the Kidron Valley, up the mount on the other side and, with much weeping and sorrow, on toward the desert.

As it would be with his greater Son, David did not at that time fight offensively against the forces of evil arraying against him. We can well imagine him stopping along the path and, with tears in his eyes, looking back upon his beloved city.

And as Jesus later prayed, so David prayed. He prayed that the counsel given to Absalom would be turned into foolishness. God heard and granted his request.

A thousand years later Jesus also wept over the city of Jerusalem, the people of which would not have Him as their King. He wept also on the
Mount of Olives.

David’s future had looked bleak indeed. But as Jesus retraced the footsteps of David, He went forth into the darkest night of soul which anyone ever could and would experience. Here He would meet the temptation to ‘give it up.’ Here He would meet the fierce onslaughts of the Rebellious One–trying his best to crush the Redeemer before He was even brought to the cross of sacrifice. As the Lord Himself put it, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 27:53).

And much like David before Him, Jesus struggled with His own human soul. Most of the bitter cup of which David drank was of his own making, but not so with Jesus. He was sinless. He drank of the dregs His Father set before Him and He did not rebel. He drank of the sorrow and suffering because He had to drink of it. He must drink if He was to bear God’s wrath upon
the sins of all.

He had to do it,
for this was His mission.

No Sorrow Like This!

David went up Olivet weeping, but he had loyal friends who wept with him. Jesus also took His friends along, but they fell asleep and then ran away. The Lord’s distress became so great that we will never be able to understand the depth of His agony in Gethsemane. He Himself said that His soul was ‘exceedingly sorrowful unto death.’ So great was His agony that He fell flat on His face to the ground, and His sweat became like great drops
of blood.

Was there ever such sorrow as this?! This was way beyond weeping; this was unimaginable.

Jesus seemed defeated and begged for an out. But the cup of suffering must be drunk. Finally, strengthened by His Father through an angel, He won the battle over His human feelings and went forward to meet His betrayer, His accusers, His mockers, His executioners, His taste of hell.

What suffering and sorrow He endured for us as our Substitute–for our redemption; what commitment: “Thy will be done.”

King David eventually defeated his rebellious enemies and returned to Jerusalem triumphantly– perhaps using the same route over Olivet. Jesus also ascended triumphantly into heaven from that same Mount, having defeated His enemies and ours: sin, death, and the devil.

Yet the story is not finished. Centuries ago Zechariah (14:4) prophesied: “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming…and in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” [figuratively].

Instead of a mount of sorrow, there would be a mount of rejoicing, with living waters flowing from Jerusalem. “And
the Lord shall be King over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:9).

Zechariah and the prophets, Jesus and His apostles are firm in this. “Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You” (14:5). He would reign. He would be with His Church of believers to protect them and will surely come again
to deliver them.

Sinners, climb to Olivet! Behold the Man of Sorrows. Weep with contrition over your sins! Watch and pray lest you fall into temptation!

Saints, stand on Olivet! Behold the King of Glory. Rejoice over your redemption won! Watch and pray, for your Savior will come for you with great power and glory!

1Olivet is not so much a mountain as it is a rounded, limestone ridge, extending about a mile from north to south on the east side of the city of Jerusalem. Between lies the Kidron Valley–the bottom of which is 300-400 feet below the level of the city and the overtopping ridge to the east.

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