The view from the Mount of Olives is wondrous: the densely packed walled city of Jerusalem embraced by the Hinnom and Kidron valleys, the Golden Gate to Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount, Mount Zion, City of David and more, bring alive both prophecy and Psalms. It is from the Mount of Olives, with its view not only toward the Holy City and its green surroundings, but toward the wilderness, that one understands how Jerusalem got one of its earliest names, Zion (2 Sam. 5:7), which comes from a word meaning desert.
On the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives is Bethany, where a beautiful church marks the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha (John 1:11), and where visitors can descend and emerge dramatically from the traditional tomb of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead (John 11:43).
The Palm Sunday Walk, which begins at Bethphage, follows the traditional path Jesus took in his triumphal entry to the Holy City (John 12:13-15). It stops in the quiet garden chapel of Dominus Flevit, marking the site where Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), and then passes the ancient Jewish cemetery, where the deceased await the resurrection when the Messiah comes to the Mount of Olives (Zach. 14:4). This is an important place to pause and consider that the Mount of Olives is not only a geographical link between the desert and the fertile Jerusalem hills, it is the spiritual link between death and life, also emphasized by the resurrection of Lazarus in Bethany.
In the early days of Christianity, monks came to the Mount of Olives in large numbers, seeking the solitude of its heights where they could deepen their understanding of these and other Scriptural truths.
The Palm Sunday walk culminates in the Garden of Gethsemane, one of the most dramatic sites on a Christian itinerary. This and Olivet’s other sites – the Pater Noster (“Our Father”) Church, named for the prayer Jesus taught (Matt. 6:9-13), the Dome of the Ascension, the Tower of the Ascension and Viri Galilaei (Acts 1:11) – stir powerful emotions that make this visit an unforgettable spiritual highlight.