Jump Start # 2884
Psalms 88:6 You have put me in the lowest pit, In dark places, in the depths.
At Jerusalem there are the remains of a home that belonged to a person of both wealth and power. There are reasons to believe that it may well have been the home of Caiaphas, the high priest that condemned Jesus.
The events in Matthew’s Gospel lead us to believe that Jesus was arrested in garden at night. He was taken immediately down the valley and to the place of Caiaphas. After an exchange there Jesus is held until the counsel convenes in the morning. Where was Jesus being held while all that was taking place?
Within the ruins of this home was a pit. Down, deep inside, under the house, was prison cells. It may have been very likely that our Lord was lowered down that pit, and with guards down there, He was beaten, scourged and put in prison awaiting the proceedings the next morning.
We looked down that pit. Then we journeyed down to the prison cells and could look up through that pit. It was dark, even though we had a few lights. It was here, in that pit, that I was asked to read Psalms 88, a passage that I never thought about being connected to Jesus. Here as our verse states, he was put in the lowest pit, in dark places.
I read that passage slowly. I paused often. Tears were flowing from our group as we thought about our Lord being down there without a friend and without any help. Above, the Jews were planning, scheming and plotting to end His life. This was something that had to be done. Without this, there would be no redemption for us.
So many people have asked about what our favorite part of Israel was. There were so many. But the most impactful moment for me was reading Ps 88 in a darkened prison, knowing that my Lord may very well have stood where I was. There are no words that can describe that feeling.
Here are a few thoughts:
First, it is hard for us to grasp what our Lord endured in His death. Just seeing the places that He was taken from the garden to Caiaphas’ to Pilate to the cross, there was a lot of walking involved with all of that. It is easy to read over the abuse and the mistreatment and not think much about it. Being in that stone prison, our voices echoed. One can only imagine the echoing cries of pain as our Savior was beaten and mistreated.
Second, seeing that place sure changes the color of sin. Our choices put the Lord in that pit. Our sins are what led Him to the cross. Sin can look so good. Sin can seem like so much fun. But standing in that stone pit, dark, lonely, it sure shows how superficial, fake and empty sin is. We can sin so easily. We can sin so often. We can think nothing of it.
There are so many places that I wish everyone could visit. The Mediterranean Sea is beautiful. The food is off the charts. Being on the Sea of Galilee is peaceful. But standing in that dark stone pit, that hits your insides. Crosses carved in the stone, likely from the Byzantine time, illustrates that the prison was used again and again. How many others were tortured there? How many others cried for help and no one heard them? How many others went to their deaths? Yet, it was that One death, that we remember. It was that One death that changed everything.
Third, that pit, those prison bars, and the place where people were scourged made all of us reflective. There was a lot of silence among us. We were thinking. We were taking it in. And, what it showed was just how much the Lord loves us. He went through that for us. It certainly makes one stop complaining. It certainly makes one want to be more devoted and committed. It certainly touches the heart. Even now, more than a week since we’ve been home, thinking about that stone pit has brought tears to my eyes.
When we returned to the bus and were traveling down the road, we broke out into a hymn, “My Jesus, I love Thee.” God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
“If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.”