Today we journey to Jerusalem. On the Mount of Olives facing the city is the cave where Jesus taught his disciples, both how to pray and also about the end times and his second coming. The church of Pater Noster commemorates these events - the view of the city is breathtaking from here. The Dome of the Rock stands today where the Temple of Jesus' day once stood. In its courts he drove out the traders, thus incurring the wrath of the religious leaders. The final conflict had begun!
Today we visit the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus experienced the greatest spiritual conflict of all time. Here he recoils in horror at the prospect of bearing God’s judgement on the sins of the whole world. The ancient olive trees, with their tortured and grotesque forms, recall his agony as he prayed, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; but not my will but yours be done.’ Here his sweat fell like great drops of blood on the ground - it’s holy ground indeed for all Christians. Nearby is the cave of the betrayal, where Jesus calmly awaited the arrest party. Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.
Today we follow the path that the arrest party took as they led Jesus, bound, along the Kidron valley. Ancient tombs along the route must have witnessed the tragic procession. Joel prophecised that this valley of Jehoshaphat would be the site of the final judgement. Vast numbers of Jewish and Muslim dead lie on opposite sides of the valley. Jesus had claimed that all in their graves would hear the voice of the Son of God. Peter and John follow the arrest party – an extraordinarily brave thing to do! 700 years earlier, Isaiah had foreseen these very events, ‘He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.’ St Peter in Gallicantu commemorates the site of terrible outrages against Jesus. Here he was probably lowered through a hole into the dark dungeon beneath. Psalm 88 exactly describes his feelings at the moment, ‘You have plunged me to the bottom of the pit - now darkness is my one companion left.’
Today we visit the site where the fortress of Antonia once stood. Here Jesus was taken to Pilate for the death sentence. At the Chapel of the Flagellation we remember the terrible Roman scourging that Jesus suffered. On the original pavement of Fortress, the Game of the King is still etched in the granite – it was played by Roman soldiers while mocking condemned prisoners. Here Jesus is mocked, struck, spat on and crowned with thorns. The scorpion is symbol of 10th legion, in charge of his crucifixion. Here the cross must have been brought out and Jesus staggers over these very stones. For Christians, the contemplation of these events is ground for the deepest love and humility. Here stood no distant God, but the living God, who, in Jesus, has personally experienced a depth of suffering that far transcends all human suffering. Because he suffered, he is able to truly sympathise with our own sufferings.
Today, in his film excerpt, David takes us to the very site of the crucifixion. In addition, we’ll also be able to relive the events of the first Good Friday in the radio recording of his play ‘WHOSE KINGDOM RULES?’ This was first performed in Swanage by a very talented cast from local churches. The former Bishop of Chester, Michael Baughen, says, ‘It’s outstanding! It takes the hearers into the very heart of the passion. It’s overwhelming in its impact!’
Today we set off with Jesus as he stumbles beneath his cross on the way to Golgotha. Here they crucify him. He carries the sins of world on himself and suffers God’s judgement on them. Here he suffers excruciating agony, both spiritual and physical, to enable God’s forgiveness to be possible for all who cry out for his mercy. Such a demonstration of God’s indestructible love and mercy is truly awesome. ‘When I am lifted up on the cross,’ Jesus said, ‘I will draw all people to me.’ Down through the centuries the magnetism of his love has continued to draw people to faith from every nation, tribe, people and language – just as he predicted. Joseph and Nicodemus take down his body - they give Jesus a burial ‘Fit for a King.’ The women watch as Joseph rolls a great stone across the entrance and goes away.
‘WHOSE KINGDOM RULES?’
Exploring the events of Good Friday from within Pilate’s residence