October 20, 2021
Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them" (Matthew 21:1-3).
Bethphage was a town located on the eastern slope (base) of the Mount of Olives (also known as Olivet), and was about 1 mile east of Jerusalem. It was named Bethphage (the house of young figs) because of the fig orchards that grew in that area. Between Bethphage and Jerusalem runs the Kidron Valley that hosts a stream (creek) called the Brook Kidron. During the dry season there is no water in the Kidron. In the rainy season it cannot be crossed. On the eastern side of Kidron was the Garden of Gethsemane. There is no historical significance to the town of Bethphage and there are no ruins left of the town to this day.
The only significance of Bethphage is that it was close to Bethany, the Mount of Olives, and the Garden of Gethsemane, just outside Jerusalem. When Jesus came to Bethphage it became His ‘Rubicon’. From here there was no turning back in fulfilling the will of God on the cross.
The Apostle John tells us that 6 days prior to Passover, Jesus visited Lazarus, Mary, and Martha in Bethany (John 12:1-3). This is significant for a few reasons:
- It would be a day of rest (Sabbath) for Jesus just prior to entering the city (the ‘Triumphal Entry’ - Matthew 21:7-11). He needed a break from the pressure of the crowds.
- Bethany was where Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave about 3 months earlier. Like Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus would receive encouragement from Lazarus concerning His own impending death and resurrection.
- It was important, even for Jesus, that He experience the refuge, comfort, and fellowship of dear friends before going to the cross. I have no doubt Mary and Martha were among the unnamed women present when Jesus was crucified and resurrected.
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25). That was true for Jesus, and it is equally true for us today.
“Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your example of taking the time to be with spiritual friends for fellowship and rest. It is encouraging to me that even You needed that encouragement in Your own life. Motivate me to provide the same for myself and others in my own life. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”