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The 3rd preliminary Station:
Jesus in front of Pilate

  

Coming to Jerusalem from the shores of Caesarea was never a joyful experience for the Roman Procurator. He knew quite well how these people were always trying to get things done their way and no matter how hard he tried he always did it the wrong way. And on these occasions, when the city bustles with people coming from all over the empire he had to come here and from the window of his quarters keep looking down at the courtyard of the Temple.

Well, he surely admired the beauty of this structure but he could not understand why all the fuss about this particular site in the whole country. He never understood why they could not stay home and leave him rest at Caesarea. No one had informed him of any strange happenings the day before.

And in the early hours of the morning finding himself faced with all these people knocking at the door of the fortress made him feel uneasy. He sought council before facing the gathering. No one could explain to him what the fuss was all about.

He asked them in but they refused. They could not get into a pagan's house, otherwise they will be unclean and thus unable to eat the Passover (Jn 18,28). "What a mess they make of their religion" he thought.

He had to do it all by himself. He tried to avoid it by sending the prisoner out to Herod as soon as he learned that his prisoner came from Galilee. And again all across the city to Herod's Palace. Pilate thought all was over for he could not realise why they had brought this man to judgement in front of him. His looks were not like those of any of those kept in his prisons. Neither his appearance or words.

And while he was thinking of leaving this city, he hears the screams on the road. He could not believe his eyes. The crowds were gathering and coming over to the fortress leading the prisoner and mocking him. This was not a game. This was real. And anger rose from their voices beneath.

He had to do something. He decided to discuss the matter with the prisoner. He did not know that he had in front of him the "Lord of Lords and King of Kings". Even if his prisoner spoke of a kingdom, still he did not understand.

And the crowd was screaming. They wanted him crucified at all costs."Is it possible that this man was so treacherous?" he was asking himself.

He tried to settle the situation in a friendly manner. He came out and offered them the freedom of this Jesus or of Barabbas. And he was stunned by their reply. They wanted to free Barabbas and not this innocent looking man.

Well, Pilate was unaware that money was being circulated! So he tried to find another solution, a bloody solution. Let the prisoner be flogged! Bloodstained garments might bring some pity!

From the throne of judgement he presented them with their victim soaked in blood after the thirty nine lashes! "See the man" he shouted!

But it seemed that blood called for more blood as they screamed aloud their death sentence! "He was refused and expulsed by his own people even if he was perfectly innocent" (Lk 23,41.47).

A Prayer

Dear Jesus, who can describe the pain under the lashes? An still you stood there tied down and receiving the blows from the zealous soldiers who went even to the extent of crowning you with thorns. They wanted to mock you and like the Jewish guards at Caiaphas house humiliate you. And still you stood there and I am sure that facing Pilate at that terrible moment you were pleading with him without saying a word. But he did not hear your "silent voice". Instead he heard the screams beneath the fortress. And again you heard in silence the words of the prophet: "I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up" (Is 50,6-9). Dear Jesus, teach me how to bear in silence all pain.



The Site


The Greek Orthodox building
housing what is called "The Prison of Christ"

This lies in the vicinity of where the Antonia Fortress stood but from the structures we know that these underground spaces served as stables. Since 1911 the Greek Orthodox claim this to be "Prison of Christ" but there is no evidence in either tradition or archaeology to confirm such a statement.
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The underground Struthion Pool
under the Convent of the Sisters of Zion

The Struthion Pool served also to collect and supply water to the Antonia Fortress and is mentioned by Jewish historian Josephus Flavius in his account of the first Jewish Revolt.

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The area of the so-called "Lithostratos"
The paved floor has become known as the "Lithostratos". It probably dates back to Hadrian's Aelia Capitolina, even if we cannot exclude the re-use of the material from the original buildings in the area including the Antonia Fortress.
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© copyright 2001. Reflections, prayers and descriptive text
by John Abela ofm edited by Michael Olteanu
based on research by Albert Storm (SBF - Jerusalem)
Hi-Res pictures prepared by Michael Olteanu
Display pictures prepared by John Abela ofm



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