Monday, July 4, 2011

"Palm Sunday Perspectives" by Stephen R. Wilson









Jesus – Played by a man in his thirties

Widow of Nain – Played by a woman in her forties or older

Pharisee – Played by a man at least in his late twenties, but the older the better

Judas Iscariot – Played by a man in his twenties or thirties

(Jesus starts walking from the rear of the sanctuary toward the stage. He is accompanied by a couple of disciples, one of which is Judas Iscariot. A crowd of people are waiting on the stage to receive Him. The crowd is, for the most part excited and rejoicing to see Him. They are waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna!”, “Glory to God!”, “A King for the throne of David!” Among Jesus’ enthusiasts are the Widow of Nain and her son. Some, however, are not excited to see Jesus. There are a couple of Pharisees in the crowd, standing with their arms folded and giving each other cynical looks.)

(When Jesus is a third of the way to the stage, everyone freezes. The Widow and her son step forward.)

Widow(excited, “rural”) Oh how great it is to see Jesus again! I remember the first time I met Him. It was right outside our hometown of Nain. My son, my only son, my love was being carried out on a stretcher. Dead. There I was, on my son’s funeral march, crying my eyes out, when He, Jesus, comes up to me and tells me not to cry. Can you imagine? Someone you don’t even know coming up and telling you not to cry on a day like that? Well then He went up and just laid His hand on my son’s body. He said, (imitating Jesus) “Young man, I say to you, get up!” All of a sudden, my son, who was dead, was alive again. He just sat right up and started talking! He was just as fine as if nothing had ever happened! Right as rain! You know, some people say He’s the Messiah, the Christ, and I don’t doubt it. He’s sure got my vote. He took my worst day and turned it into my best. I can’t imagine anyone being able to give a person more hope than Jesus can. And I’ve heard all kinds of stories like that about Him. Like this one time, this woman who couldn’t stop bleeding, just went up and touched His clothes and that was enough to heal her! And then, once, when a whole bunch of us had gone out to hear Him talk, we got real hungry, but we didn’t want to leave because we were just enjoying Him talk so much. People started asking if anyone had any food, but no one did except this little boy. Jesus’ disciples brought the boy to Him and Jesus told His disciples to pass out the boy’s food. I don’t know how Jesus fed so many people with just five loaves of bread and two fish, but He did! And I’ll tell you it was the best tasting supper I’ve ever had! And to hear Him talk! He’s so gentle, so compassionate toward us poor folks, but authoritative too. You can tell it’s God’s honest truth that He’s preaching. If He’s not the Messiah, then I don’t know who is! And I can’t imagine anyone else being able to do more miracles than He has either. (A note of doubt enters her voice now.) But…the Pharisees don’t seem to believe in Him. It’s pretty clear that they don’t think He’s the Christ. And if anyone would know, it would be them…wouldn’t it?

(Jesus and the crowd resume action. When Jesus is two-thirds to the stage, everyone freezes again. The Pharisee steps forward.)

Pharisee – (frustrated, pious, arrogant, yet unsure of himself, trying to justify himself) Oh look at these people, this uneducated mass! Why do they insist on drooling over people like this? All this Jesus fellow is is a..a…a blasphemer! If these people really want to know when the Messiah has come, all they have to do is wait until I tell them. I pour over the Law of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets. I know what the Scriptures teach. I follow it - to the letter. I even know how to fill in the gaps, the details that Moses did not give us. In short, I know that when the Messiah comes, He’ll throw off the Roman yoke from our shoulders and elevate all those who have obeyed Moses’ commands, like myself. But, until then, I’d rather not have this Jesus character stirring up trouble. As a member of the ruling body of the Jewish nation, the Sanhedrin, I know what it takes to keep the Romans happy. It’s a very delicate situation that we’re in. Every time some new radical gets it into his head to make a name for himself, the Romans are right there, breathing down our necks, my neck, wanting to know why we can’t control our own people. They ask ever so politely if they need to “step in and help us”. No, believe me, madmen, whether they be by the name of Theudas, or Judas, or Barrabas, or Jesus, claiming to be the King of the Jews, are of no help to me. I’m perfectly content to quietly govern and wait. And besides, this Jesus, whom they call Rabbi, though He’s never even had any formal tutoring, is distracting the people from my teaching, Moses’ teaching, I mean. In fact, well, it would probably be best for all if He, well, just somehow disappeared. It’s not like we haven’t had to arrange certain matters before. That’s what being a member of the Sanhedrin is all about it; making decisions and doing what needs to be done. He’s disturbing the peace. He’s leading the people astray….And He’s blaspheming!, calling Himself the Son of God no less! Moses demands that He be put to death for such a crime. 

(Action resumes until Jesus and His disciples reach center stage. They turn to face the congregation and then freeze. Judas steps forward.)

Judas(very cynical, irate) Look at this crowd! Going crazy over Jesus, the “Messiah”. They just don’t get it, do they? He’s not the Messiah! He let everyone believe that He was! He let me believe that He was! But He’s not! He obviously has no intention whatsoever of filling that role! Let me ask you a question. Are the Romans still here? Is a foreign, heathen nation still occupying Yahweh’s Holy City, Zion, Jerusalem? Yeah. It looks like the Romans are still here. It’s all a matter of connecting premise A to conclusion B. The Kingdom has not been restored to Israel. Therefore the Messiah has not yet come. Connect the dots, folks. It’s easy. What am I talking to you for? I can tell by the looks on your faces that you’re not going to listen to reason. Well, as for me, I’ve already wasted three years of my life following this Jesus guy around and I don’t intend to do it for much longer. I should have stuck with Barabbas. He never claimed to be the Messiah, but at least he was serious about doing something. At least he was willing to fight the Romans. Oh, I know Jesus talked about the kingdom. But do you know what He said about it? He said “People will not say, ‘Here it is’ or ‘There it is’, because the kingdom of God is within you.” It is “within you”? I mean what kind of cop out is that? Is that the promise that God made to Abraham? Did Yahweh say, “Abraham, I will give you this vast land of Canaan within you”? No. Did the Lord say to David, “You will never fail to have a man on your throne within you”? No! I think you get my point. But do you know what really opened my eyes? Do you know what really woke me up to the fact that Jesus can’t be the Messiah? I’ll tell you. He’s been predicting His own death lately. He’s been saying that He needs to come to Jerusalem to be beaten, to be mocked, and to die. Well that doesn’t sound like a Messiah to me. And do you know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking that if He wants to die, let Him. In fact, maybe I can help Him out a little bit. I’ll help Him die if He wants and He can help me make some money. That’s the least that He could for me considering all the time I’ve wasted on Him. Yeah, I bet those Pharisees would give anything to get their hands on Jesus. They’re just too scared to do it in public. They probably think that the people would riot or something. But if I got them to pay me in exchange for arranging a quiet little meeting between themselves and Jesus…

(Action resumes as crowd and characters exit.)

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