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Palm Sunday + Holy Monday

Standing with Bryan Loritts on the top of the Mount of Olives on our group tour of Jerusalem, Israel
Standing on the top of the Mount of Olives with Bryan Loritts

Let me begin by admitting that while I have always been a believer in Jesus, I always saw visiting Jerusalem aka “The Holy Land” as a cool thing for others to do, but as for me I was fine with continuing to go to other nations such as Tanzania, Rwanda, the Philippines, and others.

No need to walk where Jesus walked when I could minister in places where Jesus is not yet known.

But God!

In 2022 God opened up an opportunity to visit Israel and other places like Ephesus, Corinth, Cyprus, and Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. A few heroes of mine (Albert Tate, Bryan Loritts, Eric Mason, and Lecrae) were co-hosting a trip with an open invitation to 'come and see’ where the Apostle Paul had walked, as well as Jesus Christ himself. I felt an immediate stirring to say “yes” to this opportunity and took the leap of faith.

Before I knew it I found myself on the Mount of Olives with these men, along with dozens of other brothers and sisters from all over the US.

As we got out of our tour bus and stood at the top of the Mount of Olives, I was reminded of various passages of Scripture like when King David, over a millennium prior to Christ, had to leave Jerusalem and was not recognized as King by his son, Absalom. He departed from Jerusalem, passing through the Kidron Valley and ascended the Mount of Olives. In later years, this place would hold great significance in the life of Christ.

Walking from the Mount of Olives (next to the Kidron Valley) toward the City of Jerusalem, Israel

You see, Jesus himself stood atop the Mount of Olives on Palm Sunday, eventually making his entrance into the city on a donkey, fulfilling Scripture as the crowds waved palm branches shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna!” - a phrase literally crying out to be saved. Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday. The crowd was acknowledging the arrival of their Savior. It wasn’t a gathering just for fun but rather a demonstration and provocative cry out for a new King and a new Kingdom. Don’t forget that at this specific time there were other political rulers in town like Tiberius, Pilot, and Caiaphas the high priest - none of whom would appreciate the recognition of a new King by a crowd of ordinary citizens. Back to the tour I was part of… we turned one way to take a group photo with the sun blinding our eyes, and when we turn around we overlooked the magnificent city of Jerusalem - much like Jesus and his disciples would have. We then made our way down to The Temple Mount & The Western Wall.

standing on the top of the mount of olives with our tour group before walking down into Jerusalem, Israel
Standing on the Mount of Olives! This was half of our tour group.

View of the tombs of Kidron Valley in Jerusalem, Israel
Kidron Valley tombs (Between the Mount of Olives & The Temple Mount)

As we entered the plaza, Bryan Loritts gently reminded me that we were actually standing at the top of Mount Moriah. If you look back at Scripture, you’ll remember that this is the exact place on planet earth that Abraham brought his son Isaac to be sacrificed (Genesis 22). The place where the ram was eventually provided in place of Isaac due to Abraham’s faithfulness. This is the place!

Bryan reminded us that this was also the place where the Tabernacle would have been back in the day. There would have been animal sacrifices, religious ceremonies, religious teachings, and much more.

As Jesus and his disciples would have witnessed on Holy Monday, there also would have been money exchangers, a frenzy of business activity, and an obvious place where gentiles would not have been allowed.

Jesus would have seen people being taken advantage of and kept out, as well as the religious elite capitalizing on the opportunity at the expense of outsiders, outcasts, and marginalized.

The place intended for God to meet His people had been turned into a den of robbers. The place where the Creator would dwell with the created was a place of business transactions and commercial trade.

Jesus. Was. Not. Happy.

So he turned the place upside down.

Roll back in time just a few years: There was a controversial guy named Judas the Galilean who showed up on the scene to purify the temple. He was a revolutionary whose goal was to rid the nation of the Roman occupation, ordering people to fight the temple guards in order to keep the Gentiles out. To purify the temple. To avoid “contamination”.

Judas the Galilean purified the temple with the intention of excluding Gentiles.

Jesus the Galilean purified the temple with the purpose of welcoming Gentiles.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is located on the southern part of the Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif, an enclosure expanded by King Herod the Great beginning in 20 BCE during his reconstruction of the Second Jewish Temple.

street signs of the western wall and mt of olives outside of the temple in the city of david, jerusalem, israel

These photos show what the place looks like now. In modern times, we only have 187 feet of wall called “The Western Wall” and I encourage you to look up its place and significance in history.

At the same time, I also encourage you to look in Scripture at why Jesus was so intense about cleansing the temple. Why Jesus rode a donkey into town. Why it is important to know what was happening culturally and historically on Palm Sunday.

Because guess what? Easter is just a few days away.

Stay tuned.

people walking into the temple courts in jerusalem, israel

washing station next to the western wall in jerusalem, israel

Dr Eric Mason, Lecrae, Albert Tate, and Bryan Loritts standing near the western wall inside the temple in jerusalem, israel

inside view of the temple in jerusalem, israel, this is also mount moriah from Genesis 22

view of people praying at the western wall

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