An excerpt from an online reflection from

The reading from the Passion according to John follows Jesus from his questioning by Annas, the high priest, to the praetorium where he is tried by Pontius Pilate. The time frame for most of chapter 18 occurs at night.

After the Last Supper, Jesus goes to the garden in darkness. Judas comes with soldiers bearing lanterns and torches. They then bring him to the court of Annas. There, Peter’s denials occur by the charcoal fire; it is still night. But John 18:28 records, “it was morning.” That raises the question: Where did Jesus spend the night?

McGovern gives a fascinating talk about Holy Week, with slides taken in the Holy Land. One of her most vivid descriptions is of a dark, spidery, terrifying pit. Prisoners who’d been taken into custody were lowered into it by pulleys and kept chained there so they wouldn’t kill themselves before their trials. It is most likely, she concluded, that Jesus would have spent the night before his trial by Pilate in this dank dungeon.

The light of the world was plunged into terrible darkness and chained there. What were Jesus’ thoughts? Clearly, he wouldn’t have been able to sleep much. Did he pray? Did he console other prisoners? Did he remember his friends at their last meal together or think of his mother? It’s an unrecorded part of the narrative. We can only imagine what happened.

But it might bring tremendous consolation for people trapped in various addictions, imprisoned, or victimized in the countless ways humans torture one another to know that Jesus endured what they do. He, who was beauty, grace, freedom, and compassion, was chained to a filthy wall. He, who had never hurt anyone, felt the raw bite of metal into his skin. He, who had such clarity about his mission, did not know what horror the morning might bring. He entered deeply into the worst of being human.