Mark 11

Less than two miles outside of Jerusalem was the small town of Bethany, nestled up against the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. This is where Mark picks up his account in chapter 11:

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it . . . And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! (Mark 11:1-2, 7-9)

Up to this point, Bethany was probably best known for the raising of Lazarus—you know, the place where Jesus told his friend that he wasn’t allowed to be dead anymore (see John 11). But at this point in Mark’s gospel Bethany marked the beginning of Jesus’ journey that, in many ways, would mirror that of his friend Lazarus. It was Bethany where Jesus began his entry into Jerusalem and, ultimately, toward death on a cross. Yet, at the same time, Bethany marked the beginning of a journey that would end with Jesus being raised to life.

As we read through the gospel narratives some 2,000 years later, the town of Bethany serves as a quiet little reminder that death does not win. He who spoke Lazarus back to life and he who rose to life himself offers this invitation: ”I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Because of the death and resurrection of Christ, the invitation to you is the same as it was to Lazarus: come out of the grave—you don’t have to be dead anymore.

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