Sunday, May 12, 2019

SHS: Matthew 19-20; Mark 10: Luke 18

Matthew 19:
23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

There are many interpretations of what the "eye of the needle" could mean. One very visual interpretation comes from within the Russian Orthodox Church of Alexander Nevsky which sits adjacent to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Both of these Churches would fit within the original Byzantine Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher. Excavations within the church of Alexander Nevsky reveal what some suggest is the threshold of the judgement gate. The judgement gate is the gate which led out the northwestern walls of Jerusalem and according to most Christians is the gate that led to Calvary (which sits beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulcher). Remaining from that gate it the small side gate through which Joel is emerging. It is surmised that this side gate could have been used for entrance to the city after the big gates were closed at night. It is also surmised that this side gate is the gate is the eye of the needle referred to by Jesus. For a camel to enter the city it would have to be relieved of his cumbersome cargo and then bend down to make it through the tight space.

The steps to the left were the easternmost part of the Byzantine Church and led up to Calvary and the Tomb at the western end of the church. The larger gate for day use would have been where the altar is located. The altar sits atop the threshold of the gate and is encased in glass. Jesus would have come through this gate--walking across the threshold, turned to his right and climbed up the hill (the red stairs) to Calvary.

Hard to imagine a camel such as this getting through that tiny side gate.

The Judgement Gate can be seen at center right. Jesus would have carried his cross out that gate (with no visible eye of the needle in this scale model) turned right and proceed to Calvary (the pile of rocks in front of the two towers to the left of the Judgement gate). Protestant/Mormon Calvary is the pile of rocks on the north end of the wall in the upper left corner.

This large gate into Meknes Morocco has a small gate for pedestrian use. It provides a better visual of a smaller gate that would be hard for a camel with cargo to maneuver. Without its riches it might just might be able to enter the city.

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