We believe it was on the very first Maundy Thursday, the night that Jesus gathered with His disciples and celebrated the Last Supper, that Jesus would end up going to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. It was there that Judas would come with the religious authorities to betray Jesus and have Him arrested. After that, our Bibles don’t tell us what happened to Jesus the rest of the night. However, the tradition of the early church says that Jesus was taken to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest.
Caiaphas’s house was a very large palace with a massive underground system of cisterns beneath the home. This past summer, a group from St. Luke’s traveled to the Holy Land and we got to see Caiaphas’s palace. There was one cistern in particular, the deepest one below the house, that the tradition of the early church says was used to hold Jesus as a prisoner on that Thursday night.
We had an opportunity to go down in that prison cell and stand in the place we believe Jesus was held. We could close our eyes and imagine how dark, cold, and lonely it must have been that night. We remembered that even in our own lives we sometimes find ourselves trapped in metaphorical dark and lonely prison cells. Yet, we also remembered that the prison cell did not have the final word. It was just three days later that all of the darkness of the world was conquered by the light of resurrection.
All around the walls of the church that now sits on the remains of Caiaphas’s house are signs that say in all different languages, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” As I looked at these signs I was reminded of the power of what Jesus endured and why He did it. Our sins can sometimes lead us to feel trapped in a dark, cold, and lonely place. But Jesus has already endured all of that in order to forgive all people all over the world. Even when it seems impossible to free ourselves from those prison cells, Jesus makes it possible.
Maybe today you are feeling trapped in a dark and lonely place.
Maybe you can’t see a way out and you are losing hope. Find assurance in the reality of a God who has already been there and endured it all for us so that we might find forgiveness and peace. Have faith that our God loves us enough to go down into the pits, only to overcome it all three days later. Rest in the promise of deliverance from sin and death through the hope of resurrection.
Rev. Josh Attaway, Edmond Campus Pastor