The Mount of Olives is only a short walk from the Temple Mount, and from there you can get a beautiful view of the city of Jerusalem. Jesus spent His nights there during the last week of His life, praying, sleeping, and teaching His disciples. But something else is going to happen on the Mount of Olives one day. To find out what, take a look at this short video below. Then read on to find out what you can do today to prepare for what’s going to happen there in the future.
So what’s going to happen on the Mount of Olives? That’s where Jesus will return.
Jesus often went to the Mount of Olives with His disciples when He was in Jerusalem, perhaps because it was so close to the Temple. It is just across the valley from the Temple Mount, and only a Sabbath’s day’s walk from the city (just over half-a mile away, the maximum distance that Jews were allowed to walk on the Sabbath).
It was a convenient spot for Jesus and His disciples to retreat to after teaching at the Temple during the day. The Bible says:
“Each day Jesus was teaching at the Temple, and each evening He went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives…” (Luke 21:36-38).
But Jesus’ affinity for the Mount of Olives may not have been simply because of its proximity to the Temple. The Mount of Olives is also the site where the prophet Zechariah said the Lord would appear one day, redeeming those who honored Him and destroying those who didn’t:
“On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south” (Zechariah 14:4).
And it was from the Mount of Olives that Jesus eventually ascended into heaven after His death and resurrection here on earth. As He rose into the sky, two angels appeared to the disciples and said:
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city (Acts 1:11-12).
So the Mount of Olives has become famous as the place where the Messiah will first appear, and over 150,000 people have been buried there on that hill—including the prophet Zechariah—in order to be on hand the moment the Messiah arrives.
But you won’t have to be on the Mount of Olives to know that Jesus has come back. Jesus taught His disciples what that day would be like, the signs that would precede it, and what they could do now to prepare for it.
Listen to the words of Jesus that He spoke while still here on the earth, words that He spoke, in fact, right there on the Mount of Olives just a few days before His death:
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come….
“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There He is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.
“So if anyone tells you, ‘There He is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here He is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man….
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him” (Matthew 24:1-14, 23-27, 36-44).
When I was young, I remember hearing a lot of stories about Jesus. But for some reason, I missed the fact that one day He was going to come back again! When I realized that He was really coming back, my heart leapt! Wow! The same Jesus who had done so many miraculous things was going to be coming again! What a day that would be!
But this wasn’t going to be “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” (not that He was ever was that way when He first came either, but that was my impression as a child). This Jesus was going to be coming in power and might, redeeming those who loved Him and destroying those who didn’t.
There will be no question on that day about whether Jesus is the Christ or not. His re-appearance will be visible simultaneously and instantaneously all around the world. As Jesus said, “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” You won’t have to be on the Mount of Olives to know that Jesus is back. You’ll know it—no matter where you are in the world!
And when that day comes, Christ wants you to be ready. After teaching His disciples to look for the signs of His coming, Jesus then told three parables, stories that describe what will happen to those who are prepared for His return, and what will happen to those who aren’t. If you haven’t read them lately, you might want to read them again this week. You can find them in Matthew chapter 25: the parables about the ten virgins, the talents, and the sheep and the goats.
Jesus summarized them like this:
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:45-51).
When Jesus returns, He wants to find you with your hearts firmly committed to Him, ready and eagerly desiring His coming, as a bride eagerly desires the coming of her groom.
He wants to find you using the talents He has given you, not squandering away the resources and abilities He has given you, but using them to make a good return on His investment.
He wants to find you doing the things that He’s called all of us to do, both spiritually and physically: giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, inviting in strangers, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting those in prison.
I want to encourage you today to get ready for His return. If your heart’s not fully committed to Jesus, make that commitment today. If you know someone whose heart’s not fully committed to Jesus, send this message to them and encourage them to make that commitment today.
And if your heart is fully committed to Jesus, get ready for His return! Look forward to it! Look forward to the day when He stands again on the Mount of Olives, in the fullness of His glory, coming back to take you to be with Him forever! Fill your hearts with faith today, make a good return on the gifts He has given you, and serve one another wholeheartedly. Remember, as Jesus said, “…he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
Father, thank You for the reminder that Jesus is coming back again, and that He will one day take us to be with Him forever. Lord, fill our hearts with faith again today, faith that Jesus will indeed come back for us, and faith that will inspire us to keep doing Your work here on earth right up until that day comes. We put our faith, hope and trust in You again today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Want to learn more? You can watch a podcast with more discussion about this topic below.