Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Week: Awesome Friday

In referring to the day Jesus was Crucified, Arab Christians use the word 'athim which means great or awesome. I like that term because it seems to be a better representation of what happened that day. The use of good in English seems to lessen the magnitude and awesomeness of a day of both death and salvation. 

 From the Russian Orthodox Church of Alexander Nevsky

Matthew 27
When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to aPontius Pilate the governor.

A First Station of the Cross Armenian tile from the Anglican Church of St. George

John 18
 28 ¶Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the apassover.
 29 aPilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?
 30 They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.
 31 Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:
 32 That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.
 33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
 34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?
 35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?
 36 Jesus answered, My akingdom is not of this bworld: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
 37 aPilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a bking then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a cking. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the dtruth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

The traditional site of Christ before Pilate assumes that the two met in the Antonia Fortress (with the four square towers) on the northwest corner of the temple mount.

The rotunda of the Church of the Condemnation and Imposition of the Cross along side the Church of the Flagellation mark the spot.

 Stained glass window from the Church of the Flagellation.

The other possible site of Jesus before Pilate would be in the royal palace complex of Herod on the western edge of the walled city and marked by three towers.

The Hinnom Valley on the southern end of Jerusalem is where tradition has Judas hanging himself and being buried. This has long been a place of burial and was a place of human sacrifices in Old Testament times. It is also known as Gehenna or Hell.

Matthew 27
 ¶Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
 Saying, I have sinned in that I have abetrayed the innocent bblood. And they said, What is that to us? csee thou to that.
 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went aand bhanged himself.
 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
 And they took counsel, and bought with them the apotter’s field, to bury bstrangers in.
 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.

Greek Orthodox Monastery (right center) on the southern slope of the Hinnom Valley just before it merges with the Kidron Valley (left). The monastery is also known as the Monastery of Haceldama which means "blooded coins" and refers to the potters field bought with the silver coins of Judas.

Top center right are the three towers of Herod's palace

Luke 23
And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it.
 Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no afault in this man.
 And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.
 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilæan.
 And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.
 ¶And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some amiracle done by him.
 Then he questioned with him in many words; but he aanswered him nothing.

John 19
 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and ascourged him.
 And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,
 And said, Hail, aKing of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.
 Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no afault in him.
 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!
 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they acried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no bfault in him.

From the Russian Orthodox Church of Alexander Nevsky

John 19
 17 And he abearing his bcross went forth into a place called the place of a cskull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:

The modern day Via Dolorosa ("Way of Grief", "Way of Sorrows", "Way of Suffering" or simply "Painful Way") through the streets of Jerusalem follows the traditional path Jesus trod to Calvary.

Small sculptures of each station of the cross from the Roman Catholic Chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Stations of the cross commemorate various events, scriptural and not, that are associated with the crucifixion of Jesus.
  1. Jesus is condemned to death
  2. Jesus carries his cross
  3. Jesus falls the first time
  4. Jesus meets his mother.
  5. Simon helps Jesus to carry the cross
  6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
  7. Jesus falls the second time
  8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
  9. Jesus falls the third time
  10. Jesus' clothes are taken away
  11. Jesus is nailed to the cross
  12. Jesus dies on the cross
  13. Jesus is taken down from the cross
  14. Jesus is laid in the tomb 

A Third Station of the Cross tile from the Anglican Church of St. George

 III and IV stations of the cross

Jesus falls for the first time.

From the inside of the small chapel at the III station.

A mural from that chapel reminds us all to take up our cross and follow Him.

Jesus meets his mother (not scriptural)

From the Armenian Catholic Church at the IV station

The temples of Solomon and Herod (upper left ) were built on Mt Moriah which is where Abraham took his son Isaac to be sacrificed. This act is a wonderful similitude of the Father offering his Son. The ridge of Moriah continues northward from the temple under the Antonia Fortress to a rocky outcrop known at the time of Jesus as Calvary/Golgatha. This place of the skull can be seen as the rough ground in the center right of the photo. The sacrificing of a ram at the time of Abraham on this rocky ridge foreshadowed the redeeming blood of the lamb of God that was also sacrificed on the same ridge.

The rocky face of Golgotha can be seen behind an Arab bus station and below a Muslim cemetery.

 From an Armenian Chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

John 19
25 ¶Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his amother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of bCleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

 26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the adisciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, bWoman, behold thy son!

 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy amother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

 33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of aa skull,
 34 ¶They gave him avinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
 35 And they acrucified him, and bparted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my cgarments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
 36 And sitting down they watched him there;
 37 And set up over his head his accusation written, This Is Jesus the King of the Jews.
 38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
 39 ¶And they that passed by areviled him, wagging their heads,
 40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the atemple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the bSon of God, come down from the cross.
 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
 43 He atrusted in God; let him bdeliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the cSon of God.
 44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, acast the same in his teeth.
 45 Now from the sixth hour there was adarkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, aMy God, my God, why hast thou bforsaken me?
 47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for aElias.
 48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with avinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
 49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
 50 ¶Jesus, when he had cried again with aa loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

Matthew 27
 57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathæa, named aJoseph, who also himself was Jesus’ bdisciple:
 58 He went to Pilate, and abegged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.

 From the Russian Orthodox Church of Alexander Nevsky

Matthew 27
59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great astone to the door of the bsepulchre, and departed.

Luke 23
 55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the asepulchre, and how his body was laid.

To the west/left of Golgatha is a wonderful Garden now associated by most Protestants and Mormons as the preferable site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus. This photo is taken from the wall of the Old City.

The Garden Tomb Association makes a great case of how the Garden Tomb could be THE tomb. The evidence of large cisterns (like the one pictured above) and wine presses, plus the fact that it was outside the city wall near a main road and has a rolling stone tomb do make this site a great possibility.

The Garden Tomb

A rolling stone tomb from the time of Christ at Nazareth Village.

A rolling stone tomb from the time of Christ near Mt. Carmel 

A rolling stone tomb from the time of Christ that I photographed in 1982. It once stood in the Shephelah area just south of the Valley of Elah. In about 2000 it was blown up by vandals--most likely ultra-orthodox Jews (perhaps because they didn't like Christians visiting a Jewish burial site?). 

The other very possible site of the crucifixion and burial is enclosed within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (called Church of the Resurrection in Arabic). Calvary is between the small white dome and the smaller blue dome. The tomb is under the large center dome.

The Garden Tomb site is in the center left of the photo. Following the wall to the first left 90 degree turn and before the second right 90 degree turn is a second rocky outcrop (upper mid right). At the time of Christ it too was outside the city wall and along side a road. There are also roman era tombs in this area. This is the place where Queen Helena in about 327 AD decreed Jesus was crucified and resurrected. She based her decision on the traditions of local Christians and on the fact that the Romans had built a temple on the site--which signified that it had previous sacredness. Most Christians--Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian etc. revere this Church as THE place. Both sites could be the place.

Through the doors and up some stairs is the Roman Catholic side of Calvary where Jesus was nailed to the cross. XI Station

Next to it is the Greek Orthodox site where the cross was placed--behind the altar. XII Station

Down below is the Stone of Unction where the body of Christ was placed when he was taken down from the cross. Behind the stone is a mosaic showing the crucifixion, preparation for burial and entombment. XIII Station

Christian pilgrims will prostrate themselves on this stone and kiss it out of deep devotion to Jesus.

The edicule that encloses the tomb

Pilgrims lined up to go inside the tomb. (XIV Station)

The tomb and rotunda are jointly shared by the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Armenians. Restoration of the rotunda a few years ago was a happy and unusual sign of cooperation between the sects that are often at odds over who controls the various parts of the church.


  1. Chad, thank you so much for tutorial and thoughtful presentation about the last week of Christ's life. I have thoroughly enjoyed each entry and it has been a sweet reminder of my days in Israel, so long ago with you and mom and dad!!! Love to you Marie and the kids!!!

  2. Chad, thanks for the inspiring me with the retelling of this sacred story. I know that He lives and that He was resurrected. I know He loves me, He loves each of us. And He has marked the path and led the way that returns to our Heavenly Father. Happy Easter, Chad! Bob