Caiaphas’ House. Now resting on site is yet another church marking the site of that which was deemed holy. Until now, the churches built on these sites distract from the purpose of the visit. They decorate the site to ultimately bring attention to their purpose rather than the actual event that occurred. But this, this was different. This was a beautiful church, however in its simplicity. We entered in to what was a normal church with the remnants of a bedrock and caves in the main chapel. As we walked around the site, we went below…to the dungeon. I could not have imagined what I was about to see. To feel. To touch.
We made our way to the caves below. It was a place where prisoners of the Pharisees were held. The Pharisees [the religious leaders for the Jews that held a lot of power] would take their prisoners and chain them to the cave walls. Caiaphas had been the Chief Priest- the main Pharisee during the time of Jesus. On the eve of Christ’s death, he had been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and taken to Caiaphas’ House. Outside of Caiaphas’ house, Jesus had to face an obstacle. The hillside in front of the house was decorated with steps. Those very steps Christ had to walk up. I imagine him having already been beaten and bruised. He was already weak and weary. Those steps were long. After having made it to the house of Caiaphas, Jesus was then taken below…to the darkness.
As I wrote above, the dungeon was beneath Caiaphas’ house. But Jesus was not held in the dungeon exactly. Instead he was treated worse. He was taken to the empty cistern. While we stood in the cistern, I couldn’t help but begin to cry. We sang “Father I adore you” and the voices echoed off the stone. Standing in silence, I felt cold. I was cold because of where we were, not the cave, but the darkness. Light was limited. Jesus was alone. Left broken in the cistern, Jesus was alone. All I could do was picture Jesus, broken, cold, bruised and bleeding weeping and crying out to the Father. For hours he was in this darkness. I gently touched the stones and the floor trying to understand.
I walked outside in contemplative silence. Finding myself on a column, I wept. So many distractions were around, therefore I moved to a wall away from the group. I wept still…broken. I moved, for the final time to the bottom of the steps. Nearby were the ruins of other caves of the dungeons- I sat inside one. Alone. Weeping. Somehow I was trying to make sense of everything. I was trying to grasp everything. Tears mixed with joy and sorrow ran down my face. The steps, the caves, that cistern, the darkness…was for me. Christ endured those steps broken to the caves beneath. He was alone in a dark cistern, weeping to the Father…for me. The Lord- Jesus- endured everything, and this was only the beginning, for the purpose of saving me. I wept more. The darkness, pain, scorn and shame that was afflicted upon him was all meant for me.