Seeking Jesus Part VI in the Holy Land – Sacred Pit
by Sonja Harris on April 1, 2018 at 6:41 PM
The Holy Land is a mystery to unbelievers and I might add to some believers. Jerusalem where Jesus walked the land gives testimony to those that doubt or refuse to believe in the crucifixion. Going to the Holy Land has enabled me to understand scripture in a way I didn’t think possible. Some discoveries were very new to me. St. Peter Gallicantu was an unknown place or at least unknown to me until I visited this critical part of the Holy Land. Scripture may have been known by me but never did I make the connection to this holy place.
St. Peter Gallicantu was the palace of the high priest Caiaphas. Gallicantu means ‘the cock’s crow’ coming from the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus. This is also the place where St. Peter and St. John were later imprisoned as mentioned in Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 5:17-30. This church has seen its share of devastation. It was built in 457AD and destroyed in 1010 and rebuilt by the Crusaders in 1102. Again the church was in ruins in 1320 and rebuilt in 1931. The prison underground caves were rediscovered in 1889.
St. Peter Gallicantu was the very place Jesus was confined in the ‘Sacred Pit’ after his arrest and betrayal by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane. Most believers seldom think of Holy Thursday and the ‘Scared Pit’ where Jesus spent the night. Prisons in ancient times were underground caves. There were no steps to guide the prisoners to the bottom, so I can only imagine that a rope was used to lower Jesus into this hole. It was an emotional experience to see all the while thinking that Jesus was alone in a deep (approximately 40ft) dark pit without light or human contact waiting for what he knew was to happen the following day, Friday.
Psalm 88 I – IV
Lord, the God of my salvation, I call out by day; at night I cry aloud in your presence. Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry. For my soul is filled with troubles; my life draws near to Sheol. I am reckoned with those who go down to the pit; I am like a warrior without strength. My couch is among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave. You remember them no more; they are cut off from your influence. You plunge me into the bottom of the pit, into the darkness of the abyss. Your wrath lies heavy upon me; all your waves crash over me.
There are beautiful paintings inside St. Peter Gallicantu church and my favorite was the one of Peter and Jesus with the cock signifying Peter’s denial of Jesus. Below the painting are the words, Non Novi Illum, meaning “I do not know him.”
Peter’s Denial of Jesus
After arresting him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance. They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter sat down with them. When a maid saw him seated in the light, she looked intently at him and said, “This man too was with him.” But he denied it saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” A short while later someone else saw him and said, “You too are one of them”; but Peter answered, “My friend, I am not.” About an hour later, still another insisted, “Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.” Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times. He went out and began to weep bitterly.
Next, we went to the Lithostrotos of Pilate meaning stone pavement, where Jesus was scourged and condemned to death. As we sat and listened to scripture we were told that we could take off our shoes and walk barefoot on the very stones Jesus walked. I had no intention of struggling with my stockings when I felt pain on my right leg begging me to take my stockings off. Strange since I have never experienced any discomfort wearing stockings before. I complied with my pain and went barefooted on the stone pavement. I walked where Christ walked before he was put to death. What an emotional roller coastal ride, exhilarating and sad feelings at the same time.
Jesus before Pilate
As soon as morning came, the chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, "Are you the king of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.” The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, “Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse of.” Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
Seeking Jesus can be found in each and every heart. May the Blessings of Easter be upon all of you.
Fight, Never Give UP!