Very soon, churches all across the world will begin to celebrate the Passion Week of Christ. There are a number of passages in the Bible that relate many of the events of that time which began at Bethany and ended at Bethany. Although, the Scriptures only give a glimpse into the place of Bethany, we can derive several ideas from what we have. In each passage, sick folks are mentioned. Lazarus was sick and died at Bethany. The house of Simon who was a leper was at Bethany. In each case, the sick are there at this place which is a short distance, 1.5 to 2 miles from Jerusalem on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives. The southern wall of Jerusalem includes the sheep gate which is said to lead to the Mount of Olives, to Bethany, and to Jericho, then to the desert and country east to Jordan. (Gill) “It (Bethany) was called also the house of misery on account of its lonely situation and the invalids who congregated there.” (Smith’s Bible Dictionary) Bethany would be like a Hospice House of our day, a place for the sick and dying.
Therefore, stories like the one of the Good Samaritan take on a different light. The travelers would pass out of the city through the Sheep Gate, for outside the walls was a pond, the Sheep pond, where the Nethinims, Temple servants, washed the sheep and gave them to the priests who had employed them for this common work. (Gill) Therefore, the Lord would walk past the Sheep Market where the sheep were sold, past the Sheep Pond or Pool where the sheep were washed on his way to the home of Mary, Martha, and sick Lazarus. Mary and Martha may well have been the forerunners of Hospice Care. Their life may well have included people like Simon the Leper. There are some that think that Simon was the father of Lazarus since John did not mention Simon in his account. In our story of the priests and Levites going to Jericho, a city of priests, they would have to pass the Sheep Market, the Sheep Gate, the Sheep Pool, Bethany, and the Mount of Olives to reach Jericho. So, here we have the scene of any traveling to Bethany or to Jericho. The thieves of the Good Samaritan story were on the road between Bethany and Jericho, and I doubt that they lived in Jericho. They well could have been some of the miserable individuals of Bethany. This makes little difference, but notice the place where Jesus was wont to dwell—Bethany, a favorite place?
Might I suggest the prophecy quoted by Christ at his first sermon in the synagogue of Nazareth.. He took the scroll from the synagogue leader and read from Isaiah, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Luke 4:18, 19.
Notice the crowd mentioned in this Messianic prophecy: poor, brokenhearted, captives, blind, and bruised. That is a perfect picture from what I can read and study of the city of Bethany.
Christ begins his Passion Week in close proximity to Bethany. The meal at Simon the leper’s house was in Bethany; at this meal he was anointed for his burial. Then the week of Passion gets tumultuous from then on until his death and until his resurrection. Then he comforts and commissions his disciples and returns to heaven by the way of Bethany.
Luke 24:50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
Luk 24:51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
Luk 24:52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
Luk 24:53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
May I suggest to you the two bookends of the Passion Week, the events of Bethany prior to that week and the events of Bethany after that week. The poor, brokenhearted, captives, blind, and bruised were included at the beginning and the ending of the Passion Week. Also, notice the thrill of the raising of Lazarus of Bethany. The joy of the Resurrection was there in first degree.