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Posts Tagged ‘Kidron Valley’

My personal preference is majestic nature views like the vistas in Yosemite Valley or the view from Clingman’s Dome observatory.  However the morning view of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives is impressive indeed.  Such was the view locals and pilgrims experienced as they crested the Mount and viewed the city over the Kidron Valley.

View of Jerusalem from the top of the Mount of Olives.  The golden dome is the Muslim Dome of the Rock which sits essentially on the site Jewish Temple Mount.  Going even further back into antiquity this is also Mount Moriah where Abraham was directed with his son Isaac.  At the last minute before Abraham sacrificed Isaac, God stayed his hand and provided a ram for the sacrifice.  See Genesis 22.

View of Jerusalem from the top of the Mount of Olives. The golden dome is the Muslim Dome of the Rock which sits essentially on the site Jewish Temple Mount. Going even further back into antiquity this is also Mount Moriah where Abraham was directed with his son Isaac. At the last minute before Abraham sacrificed Isaac, God stayed his hand and provided a ram for the sacrifice. See Genesis 22.

Zoomed-in view of the southern side of Jerusalem.  Shot 1 of 4 with each panning a little further to the north.

Zoomed-in view of the southern side of Jerusalem. Shot 1 of 4 with each panning a little further to the north.

Jerusalem, Shot 2 of 4.

Jerusalem, Shot 2 of 4.

Jerusalem, shot 3 of 4.

Jerusalem, shot 3 of 4.

Jerusalem, shot 4 of 4.

Jerusalem, shot 4 of 4.

It was along the path leading down from this point and into the city that Jesus was hailed by the crowd, probably numbering in the few hundreds.  Recorded in the gospels (Matt 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19) they shouted, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” “Hosanna in the highest.”  “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  “Hosanna to the Son of David.”  “Hosanna!”  “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”  “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David.”

It is important to realize that Jesus was still an enigma to many.  Some saw in Jesus the political leader who would rise up and challenge the oppressive Roman regime and lead Israel to freedom.  Others saw a man who made outrageous claims of intimacy with God that bordered on blasphemy.  Many were devoted followers who believed Him to be a great prophet.  And some had even confessed Him as the Messiah, the Anointed One sent from God.  So within the crowd that lined the path and pushed around Him there was religious fervor, political fervor, and a few skeptics who watched, listened, and took notes to report to the religious leaders.

One telling scene during the descent which probably took an hour or more, was that Jesus wept over the city (Luke 19:41).  He knew the opportunity that the people of Jerusalem had, but He also knew that many would miss it.  In the midst of what should be pure celebration, Jesus is saddened by loss those who do not recognize Him will experience.  Unfortunately that is still true for many today.  God is present and alive in the world today, but many still miss Him.  They fail to recognize the time of the Lord’s visitation and their loss is an eternal loss.

That Jesus arrives in an understated manner is part of God’s approach to us.  This approach leaves room for faith.  While some religions believe it is acceptable to coerce conversions, that is not God’s way.  He values the relationship built upon faith.  When we exercise faith in giving up our lives to Him, then the gift He gives is an assurance that He is Who He says He is.

As I think back to my life before I gave my life to Him, I was a fairly religious person.  I think it is important to clarify, I could not see hypocrisy in my life because frankly, I don’t remember my church speaking too strongly against many of the sins I walked in.  I believed in God.  I believed Jesus was His Son.  I attended church almost every Sunday, said confession, and partook of the sacraments.  I tried to be a good guy and follow what the church taught.  What I did not do was regularly read the bible, pray, or live according to all that the bible said about believers.  OK, that sounds like a hypocrite, but from my point of view I was just trying to be like many of the other “Christians” I knew.   I guess I was just like a lot of people in the crowd on that first Palm Sunday waving palm branches and shouting, but not really knowing who Jesus really was.

That changed for me when I finally surrendered and asked Him to be Lord of all my life.  My belief about God and Jesus moved from belief to certain knowledge.  Doing “church” things out of duty morphed into living a life in intimate relationship with the living Lord.  And the Word of God became the source of my inspiration, information, and strength.

Admittedly there have been times when I have struggled to release something, but the Lord has graciously led me successfully through a number of those challenges.  I am sure there are still other opportunities to grow by either giving up something that I don’t really need or adding something the Lord wants me to undertake.  However I am confident that since He has been faithful to lead and help me through those before, He will continue to do so in the future.  Even though He was God’s Son, Jesus prayed and had to lean on God’s strength to pass through some of the tests that He undertook on our behalf.  This is a model for us to follow.

A thunderstorm rolled through early this morning as I was praying about what to write today.  At one point a brilliant flash of lightning streaked across the still black sky just as I looked up.  Jesus had the power to ask, nay command, the forces of nature to obey Him and they would have.  He even said at one point that He had to but ask and legions of angels would respond to His call.  But He did not seek to be spared by any of the means He had at His disposal.  Instead He obeyed the Father perfectly.  He took my place and He took your place on the cross.  He bore my sin and He bore your sin.  The penalty that we were under, He paid.

On Palm Sunday Jesus again set His face resolutely toward Jerusalem.  With raucous celebration around Him he crested the hill at the Mount of Olives and saw the city of His death, burial, and resurrection.  And while He wept, it was not for Himself, but for the city and those in it who would miss what He was doing.  Lord, help us to see, understand, appreciate, and act upon what you are doing in our lives and the lives of those around us – today and every day.  To You be all glory, honor, and praise today and forevermore. Amen!

Be blessed my friend and be God’s blessing to someone today.

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