The Mount of Olives

May 25, 2022

And when they had sung a hymn, he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26; Luke 22:39).

We leave John’s account of the last hours of Jesus’ life to interject this bit of information from Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John 14:31 ends with Jesus saying, Arise, let us go from here. The 3 other Gospels tell us that after Jesus announced the Passover observance was over, they sang the customary hymn and left the upper room for the Mt. of Olives. 

The customary song that was sung (chanted) to conclude the Passover observance was the last half of the Hallel, a reciting of portions of Psalms 115 - 118. The Hallel was divided into 2 parts: Psalm 113:1-9 and 114:1-8 was sung (chanted) during the observance of the Passover while Psalm 115; 116; 117:1-2; and 118 was sung (chanted) at the close of the observance. The name Hallel comes from the 1st word in Psalm 113:1, halelu-jah, or ‘praise the Lord’. This song was constructed from these 6 psalms because of the 5 great blessings of God referred to in them: (1) The exodus from Egypt; Psalm 114:1, (2) The crossing through the Red Sea; Psalm 114:3, (3) The giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai; Psalm 114:4, (4) The resurrection of the dead; Psalm 116:9, and (5) The coming of Messiah; Psalm 115:1. You may wonder what Psalm 115:1 has to do with the Messiah. The Jewish Rabbis saw in the 115th psalm ‘the sorrows of the Messiah’, so it was important for Jesus and the disciples to sing this before His suffering came to its predetermined climax. After singing the hymn they said the blessing over it (Psalm 145:10), then left for the Mt. of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Mount of Olives is on the east side of Jerusalem. It was the place where the High Priest stood, burned the red heifer, and sprinkled its blood. From the Temple there was a bridge, supported by arches (a causeway), that extended to the Mt. of Olives on which the High Priest and his assistants, and the heifer, walked. It was an action symbolic of Jesus and the disciples - Jesus being our great High Priest, the disciples being His assistants, His death being the sin offering (the red heifer), and His bloody sweat on the Mount where His suffering began.

Walking from the upper room to the Mt. of Olives, Jesus continued to speak to the disciples concerning their relationship to Him, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and their victory in Him (John 15 & 16). But didn’t Jesus say He would no longer speak to them after leaving the upper room? No. He said He would no longer speak much to them. Arriving at the Mount, Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane and offered His High Priestly prayer to the Father (John 17). 

Contemplating these events bring a joyful solemnity to everything Jesus did to fulfilled perfectly the very details of the Jewish ritual of sacrifice in the Passover vs. the Lord’s Supper, the High Priest offering the red heifer to God on the Mt. of Olives vs. Jesus offering Himself to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the shedding of the red heifer’s blood vs. Jesus sweating drops of blood as the beginning of His physical sacrifice that would be completed on the cross. Amen.


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