Bethany is a village about fifteen furlongs (about 1.7 mi., or 2.7 km.) from Jerusalem (John 11: 18), on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. The place is identified with the modern el–‘Azariyeh, meaning “Lazarus’ [village].” The distance from Jerusalem is regarded as a “Sabbath day’s journey” (Acts 1:12). The name Bethany is translated “house of figs” probably because there were many fig trees in that region.
The home of Jesus’ close friends
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, Jesus closest friends lived in this village. There, Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1, 41–44). And there, Simon whom Jesus healed from leprosy, made a feast to honor Jesus (Mark 14:3–10), and where Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with fragrant oil (Matthew 26:6–13).
Preparations for the triumphal entry
In Bethany, Jesus made plans for the triumphal entry to Jerusalem (Mark 11:1). Then, after visiting the temple, “He went out to Bethany with the twelve” (Luke 11:11). The second day when he came out of this village, he cursed the fig tree for not having fruit (v. 12-14) and continued to Jerusalem where he cleansed the temple for the second time (v. 15-17).
Near this village was the place of Jesus’ ascension. For the Mount of Olives, lied east of Jerusalem toward Bethany, and halfway distant toward that village (Matthew 21:1). Luke explains that after the last meeting with the disciples in Jerusalem, forty days after His resurrection, Jesus “led them out as far as to Bethany” (Luke 24:50), perhaps because it was in the old familiar setting He loved so well. From there, a short return walk over “the mount called Olivet” would bring them back to Jerusalem.
In that location, the Lord commissioned the disciples to spread the gospel to all the world . “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
Then, He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9). And two angels appeared to them 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” (Acts 1:11). By this promise, His return must be (1) personal—“this same Jesus”; (2) visible—“ye have seen him go”; (3) with clouds—“a cloud received him”; and (4) certain—“shall so come.”
About Bethany, the prophet Zechariah predicts a prophecy that will be fulfilled at the time when the New Jerusalem makes its descent at the end of the millennium: “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south” (Ch. 14:4; Matthew 21:1).
The apostle John affirms the future descend of the New Jerusalem saying, “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). And God will personally dwell with His people throughout eternity, making His home with them (verse 3).
In His service,
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