Without a doubt one of the biggest questions in Christianity is “when will Jesus return?” Even a passing glance at the evening news makes it clear that the world is in desperate need for the return of the risen Savior. Another important question is “where will Jesus return?” The Bible seems to indicate that the exact location of Jesus’ second coming will be the Mount of Olives.
The Olivet Discourse
The Gospel of Matthew captures an important discussion that Jesus had with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, the multi-summit limestone ridge just east of the Old City of Jerusalem across from the Kidron Valley. This discussion, or sermon, is commonly referred to as the “Olivet Discourse.” The central topic was the end of the world as they knew it. Sparking the discourse was the disciples’ question to Jesus, “When will this [destruction of the temple] happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3).
Jesus then begins to discuss His return on that day. He gives this description: “As lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:23–27). Jesus is making clear that His return will be unlike that of any mere mortal—He will come with speed, brightness, and power, and the whole earth will see Him (see verse 30).
What will Jesus do when He returns?
Elsewhere in Scripture, we find other clues as to where Jesus will return. The first piece of business for Jesus upon His return will be to deal with those assembled to defeat Israel. Zechariah 14:2 tells us, “I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked.” Revelation 16:14 and 16 tells us that “the battle on the great day of God Almighty” will be in “the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” The exact location of Armageddon is unclear, as there is no single mountain called “Meggido.” However, interpretation of the term leads to “hill” and most likely the hill country surrounding the plain of Meggido, which is about sixty miles north of Jerusalem.
As soon as Jesus returns to earth, He sets out to defeat this confederation of nations seeking to eliminate His beloved Israel. As mentioned in Zechariah 14, the reason that God draws them together in one place is so He can battle them all at once, a strategy any commanding officer would appreciate. This “battle” isn’t much of a struggle, as Revelation 19:21 describes the enemies of God being “killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse”—Jesus wins the victory by simply speaking. Game, set, match.
Where exactly will Jesus stand?
After His monumental victory over the attacking nations, Jesus will stand on a specific location. Zechariah 14:4 states, “On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.” The Mount of Olives is a fitting place for Jesus to return. Not only will He be standing on the very mountain where He preached the Olivet Discourse to His disciples, but that is also the place where He ascended into heaven after His resurrection (Acts 1:1–10).