Whenever you go to Jerusalem, you’ll stand on the Mount of Olives and marvel at the city spread out before you. But be sure and look below you as well.
Dotted along the slopes on either side of the Kidron Valley lie thousands and thousands of graves. Some Jewish. Some Arab. Both cemeteries lie there, in part, because of the Messiah.
Two Cemeteries and Two Purposes
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?
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 valley, sloping up towards the Old City walls, a large Arab cemetery blocks the eastern gate. One tradition states that after the Messiah descends from heaven, He will enter Jerusalem through this gate. The graves are an attempt to “defile” anyone who would walk up the slope in an effort to enter the gate. The gate has even been bricked closed for good measure.
(That should keep out the Messiah!)
A Weighty Question
King David posed a profound question: “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place?” A tough answer follows: “He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-4).
In other words, nobody. None of us qualify. “No one is good except God alone,” Jesus confirmed (Luke 18:19).
Yet while no one measures up to God’s standard, “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, But One Solution
Although the two perspectives seem far removed from us, we dig these same graves.
Some of us try to block the Messiah from accomplishing His will in our lives. But someday, what David proclaimed will occur: “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 Him and unblock the gate now?
Others of us try to earn His favor in some way. Impossible. We don’t earn by works what He offers only by grace. Even more amazing, 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.
Question: Have you ever tried to block Jesus, the Lord and Messiah, from control over your life in some way? Did that work out? Please leave your comment.