Reviewing some photos from our trips to Israel caused me to reflect on the things that took place as Jesus was arrested, falsely tried, crucified and raised from the dead.
Late Thursday night Jesus was betrayed and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was then taken to the house of the High Priest Caiaphas where He endured several false trials, was abused and held until they could take Him to Pilate early Friday morning.
The photo below with the hole in the floor and the deep pit in the rock is believed by most scholars to be the place where Jesus was held between trials during the night. This location is beneath the house of Caiaphas and was used to hold prisoners for various reasons. It is pitch dark when the lights are turned out. On a stand in this pit is a folder containing printed sheets of Psalm 88 written in many languages of the world. Psalm 88 is considered a prophetic Psalm related to the night Jesus was arrested and held. This is one of the most heart-wrenching places for me in the Holy Land. When we take groups, I always try to read Psalm 88 with the group before we sing and pray; I’ve yet to get through it without breaking down. Please read Psalm 88 and reflect on the weight Jesus was carrying as He was abandoned by His friends and realized the sin of the world was about to be placed on Him.
The two photos which follow are of an actual stone that was uncovered near the place where Pilate tried Jesus (the Praetorium) and where Jesus was abused by the Roman Soldiers. The stone is a game board for an ancient game called the Game of the Kings. Roman soldiers would throw dice on the stone and the winner of each round would get to choose different ways to torture the prisoner in their charge. Often it included dressing the prisoner up as a king while mocking and abusing them prior to their execution (Matthew 27:27-31). Some scholars believe this was used to help de-sensitize Romans soldiers to the cruelty involved with crucifixion.
The final photos are not great quality, but were shared by one of the historians near the Empty Tomb. An area not far from the Empty Tomb was known as the Place of the Skull (Golgotha – Mt. 27:33) and was near a well-traveled road before it was covered by current buildings and other structures. The photos show what the area looked like in the early 1900’s and you can see the part of the rock wall that looks like a skull near the top of the hill. This was a well traveled area which the Romans would most likely use when they wanted the masses to see those who were crucified.
Game of Kings Playing Stone