The Mount of Olives


I have been reading through 2 Samuel recently. It is a not a book that I am entirely familiar with and it's a hard read because it tells the events of David's life once he becomes King. David commits adultery and murder,  his children are feuding with each other and in open rebellion against him, there is a terrible rape and violence and blood shed.  It's a rather disappointing end to David's life and not my choice for devotional literature. 

But, as I often find with the bible, I noticed something this time that I have never noticed before. In 2 Samuel 15 we find Absalom, David's son, plotting to kill his father and usurp the kingship.   David receives word of Absalom's plan, gathers his household and flees Jerusalem, narrowly escaping death.  It is a moment in David's life where all that God had promised David appeared to be falling apart and his whole world was crumbling around him. It was the culmination of his own poor choices and a serious reminder of his own failure as King. And as David fled his own kingdom 2 Samuel 15:30 says "David walked up the road to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning."   He was devastated and in deep despair. 

But...did you catch where David was?  

The Mount of Olives.

The Mount of Olives is not an insignificant place.

There is no way David could have known it at the time but centuries later his own great great great great grandson, Jesus, would walk this same road. At the foot of the Mount of Olives lies the Garden of Gesthemene - the place where Jesus experienced his own anguish over His Kingdom, where he was betrayed with a kiss, arrested, and lead away to be unjustly tried and crucified. 

Both events happened on the Mount of Olives.  

As I read the events of David and Jesus' life I was struck by the similarity of the two stories. Two men - both Kings, the same blood coursing through their veins, one a man after God's own heart and one God himself. And though the text does not explicitly say why Jesus chose the Mount of Olives on his last night, I can't help but think he was thinking of David. Thinking of this dark moment from Israel's memory, the moment their great hero had failed.  And what I see is Jesus prophetically reenacting this event to make a statement about who He was - the King who would not fail. Where the best of men had been unable, God was and is able. 

Where David felt his deep failure as a father, man, and King- Jesus was bringing new life to the whole world as a man, as God himself, and as the eternal King. 

On the mountain where David mourned for all that was lost and his sin and failure, Jesus, on that same mountain, knew all he was going to restore and mend.  

Where David was unable, Jesus was able. 

As I look ahead to this year there are things that seem too big for me and places where I feel my weakness more than I would like. But, as I read the story of David on the Mount of Olives, I was reminded of Jesus' strength. In my failures, in my inability, in my limits as a human -Jesus is able, He is victorious. And this, makes a way forward for me and for you.  It fills the future with hope.

Jesus' strength and ability to bring God's promises to fruition in the world and in our own lives is not just a story of the past but a reality of today. Right now.  In our very regular, everyday lives. He is able and more than willing to step into our darkest memory - places we have failed, places we have despaired- and bring His Kingdom just as he did for David. Jesus is the King who did not fail.  Jesus is the yes and amen to all of God's promises.