The order of events here is from Mark 10:46 – 11:19. Luke and Matthew have similar accounts, but the exact order of events varies slightly.
Mk 10:46 Jesus and his disciples approach Jericho en route for Jerusalem in the spring of 30AD (see 1 on Map 11).
Map 11 Jesus approaches Jerusalem
Situated on the floor of the Jordan Valley, Jericho (meaning, the ‘city of palm trees’) is a lush oasis surrounded by desert, watered by a spring that never runs dry. Consequently, it has lush vegetation in an otherwise dry and arid area.
It is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, and excavation of the ancient tell, to the north of the modern city, has revealed twenty layers of civilisation dating back thousands of years to c.9000BC.
In Old Testament times, it is remembered as the city defeated by the Jewish people under Joshua, following their exodus from Egypt (see Joshua 6:1-27).
A few years before the birth of Jesus, King Herod the Great built a winter palace and gardens here, and constructed an aqueduct to bring water into the town (see the feature on Herod’s Palaces in Section 2). The city had groves of date palms which brought Herod considerable income.
Lk. 19:1-10 Passing through Jericho, Jesus meets Zacchaeus – a wealthy Jewish public official who collects taxes on behalf of the Roman government. Because he is too short to see over the crowds, Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore fig tree – a type of fig tree common in Palestine. Jesus calls up to him and is invited to stay in his house. Zacchaeus shows remorse for having cheated the poor, and promises to pay back four times the amount to those he has cheated.
Mk 10:46-52 On the way out of Jericho, Jesus heals a blind man – Bartimaeus – who is begging by the roadside as he is unable to work.
Mk 11:1-7 Jesus and his disciples climb up along the road from Jericho and approach Jerusalem from the east across the Mount of Olives (see 2 on Map 11). Before reaching the hilltop villages of Bethphage (meaning ‘place with young figs’) and Bethany (where Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived) Jesus sends two disciples ahead to collect a donkey from its owner. Jesus rides down the hillside from Bethany towards Jerusalem (see 3 on Map 11).
Jesus weeps over Jerusalem
Lk. 19:41 Jesus weeps as he looks down over Jerusalem. As the Pharisees in the crowd voice their opposition to Jesus’s teaching once again, Jesus is saddened that they cannot recognise what would bring peace to the city. He goes on to prophesy the siege and destruction of Jerusalem that occurred forty years later in 70AD (see the feature on The Romano-Jewish War in Section 21).
Roman soldiers looting the Temple after the downfall of Jerusalem in 70AD (Luke 19:44)
(depicted on Titus's Arch in the Forum at Rome)
Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem
The Mount of Olives – also called Olivet – is a small range of four hills (the highest at 2750 ft / 838m above sea level) which reaches about 250 ft / 75 m above Jerusalem to the east of the Kidron Valley (see Map 11). The name derives from the dense woodland of olive trees that covered the area in Jesus’s time.
Today, visitors to the Mount of Olives can look down over Jerusalem from the same place as Jesus did two thousand years ago. Walking down the hillside on the path followed by Jesus, visitors can enter the tear-shaped Chapel of Dominus Flevit (meaning ‘The Lord wept’) built in 1955 by the Italian architect Bertolucci on the site of a 7th century chapel. The four stone jugs on each corner of the building resemble ‘tear jugs’ in which the tears of mourners were collected at a Jewish funeral.
Dominus Flevit Chapel,
The slopes of the Kidron Valley facing the Temple are covered by an extensive Jewish graveyard. Many Jews ask to be buried at this spot as they believe they will be the first to rise from the dead when the Messiah defeats his enemies on the Mount of Olives and judges them in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (the Kidron Valley) (see Zechariah 14:3-5 & Joel 3:2).
Looking across the
Valley of Jehoshaphat
towards the Golden Gate
Beyond the grey onion domes of the 19th century Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene, visitors can look across to the Golden Gate (also called the Gate of Repentence). This gateway, rebuilt in the 7th century, is where Christians believe that Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey in order to fulfil the Messianic prophesies (see Map 12).
Jesus enters the city on a donkey
Mk 11:8-11 Jesus enters the Old City of Jerusalem riding on a donkey – a symbol of meekness – to fulfil the Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah – the Christ (see Zechariah 9:9). The crowds assembling for the Passover festival spread palm leaves on the road and greet him by singing a popular pilgrim song “God bless the One who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9) (see Psalm 118:25-26). Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on 2nd April 30AD will be commemorated by Christians over the next two thousand years as Palm Sunday.
Mk 11:11 After a brief visit to the courtyards of the Temple, Jesus and the twelve disciples spend the night at Bethany (see 4 on Map 11).