Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, O.P. Jesus paid his first visit to Jerusalem in the arms of his mother when he was a month old (Luke 2:22). It was to be 12 years before he visited again, this time as a Galilean pilgrim (Luke 2:42).
The fatigue of the four- or five-day walk from Nazareth would have fallen from him when he reached the summit of the Mount of Olives and looked down upon the city. Its power and beauty would have swept aside all emotions save wonder and immense pride.
According to the Synoptics, Jesus came with his followers to Jerusalem during the Passover festival where a large crowd came to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!" Following his triumphal entry, Jesus created a disturbance at Herod's Temple by overturning the tables of the moneychangers who set up shop there, and claiming that they had made the Temple a "den of robbers". Later that week, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples—an event subsequently known as the Last Supper — in which he prophesied that he would be betrayed by one of his disciples, and would then be executed. In this ritual he took bread and wine in hand, saying: "this is my body which is given for you" and "this cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood", and instructed them to "do this in remembrance of me." Following the supper, Jesus and his disciples went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.
In Mark and Matthew, Jesus is anguished in the face of his fate. He prays and accepts God's will, but his chosen disciples repeatedly fall asleep on the watch. In Luke, Jesus prays briefly at the Mount of Olives, and his disciples fall asleep out of grief.
In John, Jesus has already cleansed the temple a few years before and has been preaching in Jerusalem. He raises Lazarus on the Sabbath, the act that finally gets Jewish leaders to plan his death. At the Last Supper, Jesus washes the disciples' feet and there is no new covenant of bread and wine. Jesus gives the farewell discourses, discussing the persecution of his followers, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and more. He says a long final prayer with his disciples before heading to a garden where he knows Judas will show up.
Jerusalem At the Time of Jesus
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