Let’s go touring Mt Olives & Old City Jerusalem! We would make our way through Mt. of Olives till we’d get to the most amazing viewpoint overlooking the Old City. So this way we can have a proper introduction to one of the most interesting places on earth!
The Mount of Olives is frequently mentioned in the New Testament as the route from Jerusalem to Bethany. And the place where Jesus stood when he wept over Jerusalem, foretelling the suffering that awaits the city as told in Luke 19:41 (an event known as Flevit super illam in Latin). According to the Gospels, Jesus was staying at Bethany; moreover, before entering Jerusalem, John 12:1 states that he was in Bethany six days before the Passover.
Jesus is said to have spent time on the mount, teaching and prophesying to his disciples (Matthew 24-25); including the Olivet discourse, returning after each day to rest; and coming there on the night of his betrayal. At the foot of the Mount of Olives lies the Garden of Gethsemane.
Touring Mt Olives & Old City Jerusalem: Jesus’ Ascension To Heaven
According to the New Testament Jesus and his disciples sang together – “When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” Matthew 26:30. Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives according to Acts of the Apostles:
“9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”Acts 1:9-12
Landmarks We Would Visit On Mt. Of Olives
On our private tour of Mt of Olives, we’ll get to see some important landmarks to Christianity, including the Augusta Victoria Hospital with the Lutheran Church of the Ascension and its highly visible 50-meter bell tower; Also the Mosque or Chapel of the Ascension; And the Russian Orthodox Church of the Ascension with its tall white bell tower; Lastly, we won’t forget Church of Pater Noster.
On the western slope, there are historical sites we would talk about some more or even pay a visit to like: the Jewish cemetery, or the Catholic Church of Dominus Flevit; and the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene. At the foot of the mountain, where it meets Kidron Valley, where is the Garden of Gethsemane with the Church of All Nations.
Touring Mt Olives & Old City Jerusalem: Pool of Bethesda
Our private tour of Jerusalem continues by us plunging into the very core of where things happened. So a good place to start would be the Pool of Bethesda. Probably one of the most famous miracles of Jesus in the New Testament. The event is only recounted in the Gospel according to John, chapter 5: It is told that Jesus visiting Jerusalem for a Jewish feast encounters one of the disabled people who used to lie here; a man who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years. Jesus asked the man if he wanted to get well. Then the man explains that he cannot enter the water because he has no one to help him, and others go down ahead of him. So Jesus tells him to pick up his bed or mat and walk; the man is instantly cured and can do so.
Later, Jesus finds the man in the Temple and tells him not to sin again so that nothing worse happens to him. The man goes away and tells the Jewish People that Jesus made him well. The Gospel explains that the Jews began persecuting Jesus because he was healing on the Sabbath. He responds by saying that “My father is still working, and I also am working ” (John 5:17). The assertion makes the Jews all the more determined to kill him; because not only is he breaking the Sabbath, but he is making himself equal to God by calling God his father.
Touring Mt Olives & Old City Jerusalem: The Via Dolorosa
Next on our path would be the famous Stations of the Cross, better known as the Via Dolorosa. It is believed to be the path Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. The winding route from the former Antonia Fortress to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. On our private tour, we would focus on a few critical stations, mainly the last five which are in the Church of the Resurrection.
The Church of the Anastasis (Holy Sepulchre)
The Church contains, according to traditions dating back to at least the fourth century, the two holiest sites in Christianity: The site where Jesus was crucified, at a place known as Calvary or Golgotha, and Jesus’ empty tomb, where he is said to have been buried and resurrected.
Touring Mt Olives & Old City Jerusalem: Western Wall (Wailing Wall)
The Western Wall was originally erected as part of the expansion of the Second Jewish Temple begun by Herod the Great, which resulted in the encasement of the natural, steep hill known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount. On our visit, we will also enter Davidson Archaeological Park, to see actual remnants of the Wailing Wall lying in ruins exactly how the Romans left it after they destroyed the 2nd Temple in 70 CE. And like Jesus professed in Mark, chapter 13:
“Then as He went out of the Temple, one of his disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”Mark, chapter 13
Touring Mt Olives & Old City Jerusalem: Temple Mount
The Temple was of central importance in Jewish worship in the Hebrew Bible. In the New Testament, Herod’s Temple was the site of several events in the life of Jesus. The New Testament relates how, after his birth, Jesus’ parents brought him to the Temple at the first opportunity. The Gospel of Luke says:
“And when the time of purification came for their purification according to the Law of Moses. They brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord. “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord”(Luke 2:22-24)
Since he was firstborn, according to God’s commandments, Joseph and Mary needed to redeem him with five shekels from a Cohen, a Levitical priest. The redemption ceremony did not have to occur at the Temple – or even right away – but it was the most prestigious place to do so, and his parents seemed zealous to have things done correctly.
Though not explicitly stated, the story suggests that the old righteous man Simeon was the priest who performed the ancient redemption ceremony and took the infant Jesus into his arms. This event would have occurred in the Court of Women, just a stone’s throw east of where the Dome of the Rock stands today on the Temple Mount.
Touring Mt Olives & Old City Jerusalem: The Boy Jesus at the Temple
In Luke, it is told that every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of Passover. When he was twelve years old, his parents took Jesus with them to Jerusalem according to the custom. On their way back to Nazareth they had realized that Jesus had gone missing. After three days, they found him in the Temple Courts; sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. When they asked him why he disappeared and scared them like that he replied:
“Why were you searching for me? he [Jesus] asked. “Don’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”(Luke 2:49)
Touring Mt Olives & Old City Jerusalem: Pilgrimage to the Temple Mount
Jesus visited the Temple, celebrated the festivals, and taught in the courts throughout his life. According to God’s Law, all Jewish men lived close enough to be at the Temple in Jerusalem at least three times a year during the pilgrimage holidays: Passover, Tabernacles, and Pentecost. Thus Jesus would have been at the Temple continually around the year.
The Gospels bear witness to this fact, as we often read phrases such as, “And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,” or “After this, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,” or “About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the Temple and began teaching” (Matthew 20:17, John 5:1, 7:14). Later, he began his public ministry. The Gospels relate how Jesus himself continually taught the masses in the Temple. As he said, “Day after day I sat in the Temple teaching” (Matthew 26:55).
Touring Mt Olives & Old City Jerusalem: Jesus Purifying the Temple
One of Jesus’ visits to the Temple Mount is perhaps the most famous. Jewish and Christian records agree that some of the City Sadducees’ leaders who controlled the Temple at the time were exceptionally corrupt. One Passover, Jesus ascended the Mount to find that not only were the Sadducees pocketing the money. But they had now set up the market in the Royal Stoa of the southern court – on the Holy Mount itself! This is the area where the black-domed Al-Aqsa Mosque is located today. The sacrificial market was a necessity for the Temple. What bothered Jesus was the commercial market’s corruption and relocation onto the Temple Mount itself.
Jesus: The Weeping Prophet
Anyone who doubts Jesus’ great love for Temple Mt. and the Temple, has only to consider his last journey to Jerusalem. As he stopped at the overlook from Mt. of Olives, the prophet from Nazareth foresaw the terrible siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Lord’s Temple – and he wept over it (Luke 19:41-44).