Pinch Me Places: The Night Prison of Jesus

The latest installment in this series of "Pinch Me Places" on this blog is one the lovely Robin and I have visited several times, on our multiple trips to the Holy Land (and to which we plan to return in 2014). It is a spot on the site of the St. Peter in Gallicantu Church, so called because the church is built on the site of the house of the high priest Caiaphas, in the courtyard of which Peter denied Jesus...and heard the cock crow (that's the "Gallicantu" part).

As the site of Caiaphas's house, it is also the place where Jesus, having been arrested, was taken the night before his crucifixion. Under the church--and under the house of that time--is a cistern that shows every sign of having been used as a holding cell, and into which Jesus was lowered by ropes while his fate was being discussed. Though we descended to this rock prison via a set of narrow steps, the only way in or out in Jesus' day would have been the hole at the top, a mode of conveyance that is depicted in a mosaic on the side of the church's exterior (second photo, below):

Here in this night prison, I have several times read aloud Psalm 88, the messianic psalm associated with this night in Jesus' life, words driven home to my heart, creating every time a "pinch me" sensation, in the place they may well have been a prayer on Jesus' mind and lips:

1 Lord, you are the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out to you.
2 May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
3 I am overwhelmed with troubles
and my life draws near to death.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am like one without strength.
5 I am set apart with the dead,
like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
who are cut off from your care.
6 You have put me in the lowest pit,
in the darkest depths.
7 Your wrath lies heavily on me;
you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.[d]
8 You have taken from me my closest friends
and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
9 my eyes are dim with grief.
I call to you, Lord, every day;
I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you show your wonders to the dead?
Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
11 Is your love declared in the grave,
your faithfulness in Destruction[e]?
12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?
13 But I cry to you for help, Lord;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why, Lord, do you reject me
and hide your face from me?
15 From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
I have borne your terrors and am in despair.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your terrors have destroyed me.
17 All day long they surround me like a flood;
they have completely engulfed me.
18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
darkness is my closest friend.

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