Preparing for Easter: Walking
with Jesus the Prisoner
As Easter approaches, Christians around the world prepare to celebrate and remember the resurrection of Jesus. When reflecting on this significant time, it’s important to remember an aspect of Jesus’s life that is often overlooked – His time as a prisoner. Jesus was arrested, falsely accused and tried before being sentenced to death on the cross.
Here at Prison Fellowship International, we believe that no one is excluded from God’s sacrifice of His son dying on the cross, including those who are incarcerated. Through our in-prison programs, The Prisoner’s Journey® and The Listener’s Way, prisoners are introduced to Jesus the prisoner and shown the transformative power of the Gospel. This Easter, let the traditional sites of Jesus’s arrest, imprisonment and death serve as a reminder that hope and redemption can be found even in the darkest of places.
Jesus’s Journey from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Garden Tomb
The Garden of Gethsemane
Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane by Paolo Veronese
Located at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane is the site where Jesus prayed with His disciples before his arrest on the night before His crucifixion. Jesus showed His agony as He asked God for the cup of suffering to be taken away from Him, but demonstrated His willingness to submit to God’s will even though He knew the suffering that awaited Him.
House of Caiaphas
The House of Caiaphas by Gustave Doré
Also known as the high priest’s palace, the House of Caiaphas (or Annas, the father-in-law of the High Priest Caiaphas) is the site where Jesus was brought for interrogation and trial after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was at this house where the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council, accused Jesus of blasphemy and decided to hand Him over to the Roman authorities to be crucified. The Bible does not explicitly say Jesus was imprisoned here, but Church tradition says this is one of the places where Jesus was “held” before his trial.
Christ Leaving the Praetorium by Gustave Doré
Located in Jerusalem, the Praetorium was the official residence of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and the site of Jesus’s trial after being handed over by the Jewish authorities. Here, Pilate ultimately made the decision to sentence Jesus to death by crucifixion, demonstrating the political nature of Jesus’s trial. Some believe that Jesus was imprisoned in one of the caves underneath the Praetorium.
Gabbatha in Aramaic
The Judgment on the Gabbatha by James Tissot
Gabbatha was the raised platform where the judgment seat (or bema) was located, near or appended to the Praetorium. This is where Pilate presented Jesus before the crowd and first washed his hands of responsibility for His execution before succumbing to the demands of the crowd to crucify Him.
Christ Collapsing under the Cross by Anonymous
Also known as the Way of Sorrow or the Way of the Cross, the Via Dolorosa is the path through Jerusalem that Jesus walked while carrying His cross to the site of His crucifixion. The Via Dolorosa is an important pilgrimage site for many Christians, as it is a way to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and remember His suffering and sacrifice.
Golgotha by Mihály Munkácsy
Known as Calvary (Place of the Skull), Golgotha is the site of Jesus’ crucifixion that sits outside the walls of Jerusalem. The exact location of Golgotha is uncertain but the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is widely accepted as the location. Here, He who was without sin came to be crucified – a humiliating punishment that Romans imposed as a gruesome, shameful death. As Jesus is being crucified alongside two criminals, one of them taunts Him while the other acknowledges His innocence and asks for mercy. In response, Jesus tells the second criminal, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” With this statement, Jesus demonstrated His love, mercy and power to save. Dying on the cross, Jesus’s life was the ultimate sacrifice made for humanity’s sins and salvation.
The Garden Tomb
Preparation of Christ’s Tomb by Vittore Carpaccio
The Garden Tomb, also known as the Tomb of Christ, is the site of Jesus’s burial after His crucifixion on the cross. Located in a garden near the Damascus Gate in the city walls of Jerusalem, the tomb was donated by Joseph of Arimathea and was carved into rock. Jesus’s burial in the tomb represented the end of His physical life on Earth, but just the beginning of His spiritual resurrection
The Transformative Power of Redemption
Jesus’s journey through these historic sites reminds us that Easter is a time of redemption. His death and resurrection prove that even the darkest of moments can be transformed into something beautiful. Our programs, The Prisoner’s Journey® and The Listener’s Way, demonstrate this transformative power of redemption by engaging prisoners with Jesus. By confronting their past and finding hope for their future in the Gospel, prisoners experience rehabilitation and restoration. Just as these dark sites can be seen as symbols of hope, prisoners can see their incarceration as an opportunity for transformation and growth.