Every October, we are inundated with decorations portraying death. People even decorate their front yards to look like cemeteries. In Mexico, Nov 2nd is "Día de los Muertos," literally the Day of the Dead. Over the past few years, I've realized Halloween is the only holiday that people of different faiths can celebrate together, which is a bit disturbing.
I started thinking about something I read the other day in my devotions. The last two verses in Luke 21. It 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, 38 and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple." I thought about the Mount of Olives. When we read about the Mount of Olives, it sounds like this romantic grove of olive trees. At the foot of this hillside is where Gethseme is located. For some reason I have never connected the dots until now. I have stood at the top of that hill and looked down into Jerusalem. It is not a beautiful olive grove, instead the whole hillside today is covered with graves. Now I don't know if there were that many graves on the hillside in Jesus day, but it was still a cemetery. In fact, this is a special place for the Jewish people to be buried. So if you think about it, why would Jesus spend the night in or near a cemetery? This is also the location where he made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He took the path next to the cemetery.
John 10:10 says that Jesus came to give us life and life more abundant. He often refers to himself as the bread of life and the living water. Why would someone so confident of his purpose, sleep and walk among the dead? My thought is that he was using this as a metaphor to explain why he came. Maybe he was saying he was not afraid of death because he would overcome it. The scripture does not say anyone was with him when he spent the night on the hill.
What else is interesting having read the through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy is that the Israelites were not to touch a dead body or they would be defiled. Jesus was always creating a stir among the Pharisees. After all, he had brought a few who were dead back to life. I wonder if that could have been an issue for them as well. How can this man who claims to be the Messiah sleep where the dead sleep?
My last thought on this is, maybe Jesus was showing us in the natural what happens in the spiritual. That where he is, there is life. Maybe the cemetery represents us spiritually and it's only when he is there, that life happens. As I was just looking through the concordance, the Mount of Olives is only mentioned a few times in the Old Testament. But its only mentioned in the New Testament in reference to Jesus. Jesus actually spent a lot of time on the Mount of Olives. Did you know that Jesus never spent the night in Jerusalem, until the night he was crucified? The Mount of Olives is the location where Jesus will return. In Zechariah 14:4 it says that the Lord will stand with his feet on the Mount of Olives and it will split apart. Maybe Jesus spent time there so we would know where to look for him when he returns. That is how we will know the difference to those who claim to be the Messiah. If when they stand on it, it will split apart.
I've never known cemeteries to be places of holy ground, but I wonder if this cemetery could be considered holy ground because the One who brings life spent a lot of time there. On that day when the Messiah returns, the dead in Christ will rise (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Oh what a day it will be when Jesus comes back! I wonder what the spiritually dead will say then? Will they even be able to speak! Jesus is life and because he is, we can live beyond the grave!