It was the first of many lasts for Jesus. Today He walks the road from Jericho to Jerusalem for the last time. The switchback canyon path rises 3,300 feet out of an oasis through treacherous terrain, from Jericho (820 ft. below sea level) to Jerusalem (2,500 ft. above sea level).
As a good Jew, Jesus walked this road at least six times every year going to and from Galilee to celebrate the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. More than 100 times in His lifetime. He knew every turn, every ravine, precipice, and gorge.
Satan once tempted Jesus in a wilderness near here and no doubt tempted Him again on this last climb. If Jesus wanted a way to escape what waited Him, He would have found one. But this road went in one direction—to Jerusalem and to His death. Luke said He “set his face like a flint for Jerusalem.”
Ahead of Him waited unimaginable suffering and behind Him walked His disciples, arguing over who would be first in the new kingdom.
For 3,000 years, Jewish pilgrims walked this path. To get their hearts ready to worship in Jerusalem and possibly get their minds off the steep climb, they sang. The Songs of Ascent, Psalms 120—134, were written specifically for this road.
Picture Jesus and His disciples walking side by side, or at times single-file, singing Psalms about God. Someone would start a familiar tune and others would join in. Their deep voices harmonizing, filling the canyon and cliffs stretching above and below them. They sang:
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:1-4
Jesus could have avoided Jerusalem and everyone who wanted to kill Him there. He could have turned back anywhere on this road. But instead, He sang of God’s great name . . . He worshipped.
The reality of what waited ahead was never far from His thoughts—but neither were you. And what He determined to accomplish in the next few days would change your destiny, even the future of the world.
Today, over the last rise in this road from Jericho, you catch a glimpse of the Old City spread out in front of you, just like it was in Jesus’ day. For everyone who loves the Lord, the sight of it takes you to tears. It’s meant to be this way.