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Mount Zion and the Upper Room November 11, 2009

Posted by Jeff Block in Bible Stories, Travel.
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Mount Zion

After we left Caiaphas’s house, we boarded the bus, drove a block or so, parked the bus, and disembarked. We were still on Mount Zion, just down the street from Caiaphas’s place, at the tomb where it’s believed David is buried. We didn’t go inside the church itself, but it was pretty cool from the outside. We did go in a little room from the Crusader era (12th century architecture) that commemorates the belief that this is also the location of both the Last Supper and Pentecost.

There was actually some significant controversy within our group as to whether or not this really was the place of both the last supper, Pentecost, and potentially even one of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. As our guide was explaining that this was all true, it didn’t sit right with me. So, when we got out to the courtyard, I read Acts 2 aloud slowly and we carefully analyzed the passage as a group. We were debating that it didn’t make sense for 3,000 people to be saved in a tiny upper room. The Bible clearly states that “they were We concluded that “they were all together in one place”, so this happened in one place. Then, “a sound like a mighty rushing wind … filled the entire house where they were sitting”. This clearly indicates that they were indoors. Then, they began to speak in different languages (or at least everyone around them heard them in their native tongue), and a crowd gathered. So much so that 3,000 people were saved, which implies that there were likely many more there who didn’t come to trust in Christ. So, we concluded that they must have started inside in fear and then moved outside in boldness once the Holy Spirit had descended upon them.

We also debated whether or not the Last Supper, Jesus’ second post-resurrection appearance, and Pentecost would all have happened in the same place. That just doesn’t seem likely to me. In both Matthew 26 (from v17) and Luke 22 (from v7), Jesus instructs the disciples to go meet a (seemingly random) man in Jerusalem to prepare an upper room – Luke even uses the term “guest room” – for them that they might observe the Passover together. We know that Jesus is arrested that night, and the disciples (except for Peter) disperse in fear of also being arrested. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that they would retreat back to a random guy’s guest quarters. Would they be able to trust this person not to give them up? Would the room even still be available the next day? Etc. It seems far more likely that they’d pull back to Mary’s house or the home of a trusted follower of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea even. And just because the disciples retreated to a particular place when Jesus was arrested and killed, doesn’t mean that they would necessarily be hiding in the same place when He appears to them in John 20 (from v19).after His resurrection.

So, anyway, we had some interesting discussion, but much of this was never resolved. Our tour guide didn’t really have answers for me, and I haven’t taken time to research the topic since my Internet connectivity has been spotty. For now, I’m content to assume that a lot of speculation has gone into saying that this particular church in Mount Zion is the location of all four of these historic places:

  • King David’s burial (1 Kings 2)
  • The Last Supper (Matthew 26 and Luke 22)
  • Jesus’ 2nd post-resurrection appearance (John 20)
  • Pentecost (Acts 2)

And I’m okay with that. What’s far more important to me is that these events happened, not exactly where they happened. But I am far less willing (having not seen any convincing evidence) to assume that they all happened in the same place out of (what I perceive to be) convenience on the part of those making the assumption.

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