"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Stone the Builders Rejected Is the Cornerstone

This is my seventh time to Israel, but the first time I've walked through the Western Wall tunnel underneath the entire length of the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish Temple Mount. After the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and Jordan, the Israelis took control of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Though they handed back to the Palestinians their Dome of the Rock, the Israelis began secretly excavating an underground tunnel along the Western Wall. In 1997 the Palestinians rioted when the Israelis opened the northern end of their excavations to allow those who walk the tunnel an exit in the Muslim quarter of old Jerusalem.

When Jesus was alive, the northern end of the Temple mountain (Mount Moriah) was the location of Antonio's Fortress, the place where Roman soldiers headquartered and where Pontius Pilate resided when he visited Jerusalem from his headquarters in Caesarea by the Sea. Antonio's Fortress, built by Herod, was dedicated to the deceased Roman Caesar, Mark Antony. Herod had thousands of quarrymen cut out stones from the bedrock of Mount Moriah to build the Temple, the Temple platform, Antonio's Fortress, and the massive Colonnade on the southern end of the Temple Mount.

Antonio's Fortress, standing on the northern end of the Temple courtyard, had four towers. One tower was on the southwest, one on the northwest, one on the southeast, and one on the northeast (see picture of the four towers). It was in the southwest tower that Jesus was brought before the people by Pilate. Jesus stood in a place where people in the Temple courtyard as well as people outside the Temple courtyard on the sidewalk (the sidewalk we now walk underground along the Western Wall). It was as Jesus was standing at this very spot, in Antonio's Fortress, above the people, that all the Jewish people cried "Crucify Him, Crucify Him." They demanded that Barabbas be released and that Jesus die.

Underneath the southwestern tower of Antonio's Fortress, along the bottom of the western wall, was a sidewalk that all the people of Jerusalem walked. Because of recent excavations, we now can walk this sidewalk as well during our Western Tunnel tour.  When one walks the excavated Western Wall sidewalk in the tunnel, the sidewalk comes to an end directly underneath the southwest tower of Antonio's Fortress. Where the sidewalk ends, a massive rock stands. The Jews in Jesus day would have been very familiar with this rock. They would have seen it every time they walked the sidewalk. The quarry workers in the days of King Herod (37-4 B.C.) had started to cut the rock out of the bedrock of Mount Moriah (you can see the chiseling), but for some reason, the builders of the Temple rejected the rock and stopped their work to pull it out. So, in the day of Jesus, anyone walking south to north along the sidewalk outside the Western Wall would have come to the rock "rejected by the builders."

Above that very familiar rock, Jesus Christ was condemned by the Jews. He was...

"The stone the builders rejected." (Psalm 118:22).

Jesus knew the significance of the rock underneath the tower on which He would be rejected and condemned by His own people, and He said, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The Stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.'" (Matthew 21:42).

5 comments:

Pege' said...

Oh Christ the solid rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand...ALL other ground is sinking sand. Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ, our head and cornerstone,
chosen of the Lord and precious,
binding all the Church in one;
holy Zion's help forever,
and our confidence alone. We his people do not stumble but STAND strong on this foundation. Jesus Christ. WOW!!! Thanks for the reminder Wade!

Gordon said...

We are anchored to this Rock which cannot move; grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.
Let us pray for and speak to those many Jews whose eyes and ears are still closed to the Christ whom God sent to save His people from their sins.

RRR said...

God's providence is so detailed. Muddles my mind. Thank you for sharing this.

Rex Ray said...

“For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures where it says, the stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12)

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