Praetorium

The soldiers lived and worked inside the Praetorium. Guards in the towers watched over Jerusalem.  Placed at the northern edge of the Temple Mount, they had a clear view of the Temple Courtyard and beyond to the Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives. 

Outside the Praetorium, the city was filled with Jews who had come to celebrate the Passover, a feast commemorating the night God spared the Hebrews from death and set them free from slavery in Egypt. The streets were more crowded than usual as the pilgrims and tourists walked the city.  Many were set up on the sides of the streets to sell their figs, their scarves, and their woven baskets.  Sheep were escorted toward the Temple for the Passover sacrifice. 

Inside the Praetorium, the Roman soldiers were mocking the most recent group of men condemned to die.  One, in particular, was being executed for being the King of the Jews.  They put a crown of thorns on his head.  They put a robe on his back and mocked him.  They punched him in the face, pulled out his beard, and spit on him.  They put a cross on his back and then they began the parade.

Stepping outside the Praetorium into the busy street, Jesus carried the cross to his place of execution.  He was weak from a recent scourging.  He was tired after a long night of prayer and mock trials.  He was thirsty.  The walk was uphill through the crowded streets as soldiers yelled for people to make way.  Jesus fell.  Women wept for him.  Simon of Cyrene was recruited by the soldiers to carry the cross the rest of the way.  Some people in the crowd took pity on the man stumbling behind the cross. Some of the people saw the man with the cross and were bothered by being inconvenienced.  Most people in the city didn’t even know that a man was walking to Golgotha, the place of the execution. 

What will you be doing during Holy Week?  Will you take notice of the man who was nailed to a cross?  Jesus asked his disciples, “Could you not stay awake one hour?”  Are you willing to give some of your time to participate in our special services during Holy Week that help us connect to the story of Jesus? 


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