Dotted along Jerusalem’s slopes on either side of the Kidron Valley lie thousands of graves. Some Jewish. Some Muslim. Ironically, both cemeteries lie there, in part, because of the Messiah.
The largest Jewish cemetery in the world dots the side of the Mount of Olives as it slopes down into the valley that separates it from Jerusalem.
Why be buried here?
Two Cemeteries and Two Purposes
The Scriptures teach that when the Messiah descends, His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem and He will judge the nations (Zech. 14:4). Scattered along that hillside today, those thousands of Jewish graves give testimony to the hope that those buried there will receive a more benevolent resurrection when Messiah comes.
On the other side of the Kidron Valley, sloping up towards the Temple Mount, a large Muslim cemetery blocks the eastern gate, or Golden Gate, which itself is even bricked closed. One tradition suggests that after the Messiah appears, He will enter Jerusalem through this gate. The graves therefore represent an attempt to “defile” anyone who would ascend the hill in order to enter the gate.
A Weighty Question
Although the Temple Mount had no temple on it when King David penned Psalm 24, the monarch’s profound question still applies across the ages:
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. —Psalm 24:3-4
In other words, nobody can ascend into God’s presence. None of us qualify as having clean hearts. “No one is good except God alone,” Jesus confirmed (Luke 18:19).
Although no one measures up to God’s standard by himself or herself, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). One can only approach God by His grace—not by religious deeds, prayers, or even a strategic interment on the Mount of Olives.
Two Perspectives, One Solution
Although the two perspectives seem far removed from us, we tend to dig these same graves today.
Some people try to block the Messiah from accomplishing His will in their lives. But someday, what David proclaimed will occur regardless:
Open up, ancient gates! . . . and let the King of glory enter. —Psalm 24:7
When that day comes, no bricked gate will hinder the Messiah. He is sovereign. Why not submit to God and open the gate of your heart to Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
Other people try to earn God’s favor in some way—to ascend God’s holy hill by their life of good deeds. This, of course, remains impossible. As David wrote, we have unclean hearts and hands, and no amount of good deeds done can undo the bad deeds. We don’t earn by works what God offers only by grace.
The Good News?
We can ascend to the hill of Lord through the means God has provided—through faith in His Son who died as payment for our sins.
Just as no bricked gate can keep Jesus out when He comes, so also no sin will hinder those who come to God by grace through faith in the Jesus, the Messiah.
The only gate He won’t enter is the heart that keeps Him out. You hold the keys.
Question: What do you think keeps Jesus out of hearts today? To leave a comment, just click here.