There’s a gap between two chapters of Matthew’s gospel that I’d never noticed before.
Matthew 26. The arrest, the dragging up these steps, in view of the road on which he’d entered the city like a strange victor on a donkey, in view of the city over which he’d wept. The shoving and kicking to the home of the High Priest for a hasty mock trial. The tearing of clothes, the spitting and the slapping.
And then, the night.
Before Matthew 27 “When morning came…”.
The night. After the day of arrest and betrayal. Before the ‘what happens next’.
At this spot, below the High Priests house, is a pit. At the time of Jesus, a ‘holding cell’, for a man to be held between arrest and trial, between judgement and punishment, life and death, would be a pit. Into this he would be lowered, bound, alone.
Even the words of the gospel writer don’t accompany Jesus into this place.
But perhaps the words of the Psalmist accompanied him there. Perhaps these stones breathed in these words, breathed out of Jesus’ lonely lips.
O Lord, God of my salvation,
when, at night, I cry out in your presence,
2 let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry.
3 For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the Pit;
I am like those who have no help,
5 like those forsaken among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
6 You have put me in the depths of the Pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah
The gospels are full of people. But in this pit, Jesus was abandoned to loneliness. I find myself shrinking from imagining it – the fear, the slowness of the hours passing.
There are no places of our own loneliness from which Jesus shrinks.