On the Way to Calvary

by Don O. Thorpe

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    The events of the Savior’s last week of mortality were both glorious and terrible. We often read the words that describe the joy and sorrow of that final week, but the words alone sometimes fail to reach down into the depths of our feelings.

    These photographic impressions of Israel may help provide an emotional background for the spiritual account of the events that took place in the life of the Savior. In Israel’s topography you can see delicacy and harshness—dust and weeds lie side by side with flowers and cultivated fields. All were a part of the Savior’s life and were common sights to him. There is still a feeling that sings from this land—Jesus walked here; he is the Son of God.

    The impressions of light and color represent the feelings that those who walked with Jesus may have felt. I have tried to put you in the Jerusalem of 2,000 years ago. Here is the Holy City as it might have appeared during that fateful week on the way to Calvary.

    From Bethany to the Last Supper

    “And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples,

    “Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.

    “And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.

    “And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.

    “And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen.” (Luke 19:29–30, 35–37)

    Looking from Bethphage toward Jericho

    Looking from Bethphage toward Jericho

    “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,

    “[Saying] For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,

    “And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” (Luke 19:41, 43–33)

    The Golden Gate—ancient entrance to Jerusalem from Bethphage

    The Golden Gate—ancient entrance to Jerusalem from Bethphage

    “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

    “And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

    “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.” (Matt. 21:12–14)

    Stone ruins from the temple area in Jerusalem

    Stone ruins from the temple area in Jerusalem

    The wall of the Old City from the Mount of Olives

    The wall of the Old City from the Mount of Olives

    “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

    “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

    “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

    “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet,

    “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

    “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:3–7, 14)

    Two ancient pillars from the temple’s portico

    Two ancient pillars from the temple’s portico

    “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

    “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

    “And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

    “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:31–34)

    The original steps that led from the palace of Caiaphas toward Gethsemane

    The original steps that led from the palace of Caiaphas toward Gethsemane

    “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

    “He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

    “After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

    “[He said unto them] For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

    “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.” (John 13:1, 4–5, 15–16)

    Old stone path between Jerusalem and Bethany

    Old stone path between Jerusalem and Bethany

    “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

    “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

    “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matt. 26:26–28)

    Goats at an Arab market The traditional site of the Last Supper

    The traditional site of the Last Supper

    From Gethsemane to the Crucifixion

    “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.

    “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

    “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Matt. 26:36, 39; Luke 22:44)

    “Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.

    “And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.” (Matt. 26:50, 57)

    “Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;

    “But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

    “Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Matt. 26:59, 63–64)

    “When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:

    “And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.” (Matt. 27:1–2)

    Grooved stones that were part of the street that ran through Pilate’s courtyard

    Grooved stones that were part of the street that ran through Pilate’s courtyard

    “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

    “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (John 18:36–37)

    “And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?

    “And they cried out again, Crucify him. (Mark 15:12–13)



    “And they took Jesus, and led him away.

    “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:

    “Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.” (John 19:16–18)

    “And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.” (Mark 15:39)

    Photos by Don O. Thorpe

    Goats at an Arab market

    An olive tree in Gethsemane

    Sunset on the Mount of Olives