This is something I wrote and "preached-acted" for the Wine Before Breakfast community this week, based on Luke 23, which they also published on their Empire Remixed blog. I'm so grateful to have a community like WBB where I'm comfortable enough to take risks and push myself out of my comfort zone.
Speaker 1 – an enthusiastic, detached, excitable spectator
You know, I always thought he was the One, the next great King.
Way back when he read that passage from Isaiah, remember that?
when he said “this is about ME” and dropped the mic
and everybody freaked out, and then he vanished?
Not a bad opening act.
And then all the healings, the exorcisms, the feedings,...
he just started snowballing, getting more and more famous.
My favorite was his showdowns with the Pharisees.
Some of the best comebacks and trash talking I’ve heard in years.
When I heard he was headed for Jerusalem,
I knew it was going to be the most epic Passover ever.
There was no way I was going to miss his big finale.
I still can’t believe he just walked right into their trap!
Anyone could have seen that coming!
And then he clammed up completely – didn’t even TRY to defend himself.
Almost like he wanted to end up… up there.
You know, I’m actually kind of embarrassed for him.
I mean, I like a good death scene, but this is just pathetic.
Really, though, I’m more embarrassed for myself,
for jumping on the bandwagon too soon.
I guess there’s still time before he dies;
he could still pull one of his tricks
and get himself down off that cross.
I’ll stick around and watch for a while. Just in case.
Speaker 2 – a serious, business-like, authoritarian type
I always thought he was the One, the long-awaited King.
It’s like I’ve always said: we need a Messiah,
but not these revolutionary wackos who keep claiming the title.
No, we need someone who can prove that we Jews are worthy of worldwide respect,
Someone who can… Make the Jews Great Again.
Great, like we were in the good old days - the time of David.
And Jesus is a blood relative of David,
so the birth certificate checks out.
It’s not only his lineage - he had had the charisma for the job.
He could command authority.
Nothing fazed him.
He wasn’t afraid of being politically incorrect when he needed to be.
Granted, he wasn’t big on law, order, and tradition as I would have liked.
Actually, I started doubting him pretty early on.
He just didn’t maintain good boundaries.
He kept associating with the wrong kind people.
you know, the ones who bring us down, who contribute nothing to society.
Troublemakers. Criminals. Deviants.
I hear they were even in his inner circle.
Let’s face it - it’s a dangerous world out there.
So if our omnipotent, victorious God were to send us a King,
Wouldn’t he send the most powerful human being possible?
Strong enough to protect his chosen people,
someone who won’t hesitate to act forcefully and decisively
to eliminate any and every threat,
so we can continue in our God-given traditional ways?
And if some guy claims to be this God-Sent King
but he shows himself to be nothing more than a loser,
a soft, weak, forgiving pushover,
then I don’t care whom he’s descended from -
he’s an imposter,
and you’ve got to take him out before he does any more damage.
Speaker 3 – a passionate, eager, fierce revolutionary
I always thought he was the One, the true King.
He was definitely not an insider – no, he was one of us.
A man of the people – from Nazareth, of all places!
There was no way Jesus could be bought,
no way he would sell out and become another pawn of this corrupt Empire.
Finally, I thought,
here was someone who could channel the anger
of the hard-working, hard-done-by underclass
into a revolutionary movement for social change,
and free us from the iron grip of Rome.
He was witty, inspiring, great with a loudspeaker.
He had creativity – did you see the street theatre he did the other day,
riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey? Genius.
He could have had a perfect record for justice,
but he insisted on compromising his purity.
Inviting himself over to party with those tax collector traitors,
eating feasts paid for with the dirty money they exploited from their own people.
Healing that servant of a Roman soldier – basically fueling their war machine.
He failed to fully separate himself from the death-dealing systems,
and didn’t have the political savvy to set up any life-giving systems
that would take his healing to the masses.
I mean, is there anything that will actually outlive him?
And just yesterday, when he had the ears of Pontius Pilate and Herod themselves,
the perfect moment for some civil disobedience, some real action for justice,
He lost his nerve.
Couldn’t even get a word out.
His only accomplishment was strengthening our enemies
by giving Herod and Pilate a common joke to laugh at.
Instead of challenging the oppressor,
he stood there and let himself be oppressed.
What a waste of potential. Too bad he’ll suffer for it.
I hate to say it, but after this brutal disappointment,
I’m kind of happy we got Barabbas back.
Granted, he’s no diplomat – he’s murderous and very likely insane,
but at least he won’t choke when there’s a chance to get the job done.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
The people need freedom… by any means necessary.
Speaker 4 – a disillusioned, bitter, deeply hurt disciple
I always thought you were the One, the King,
from the day you first placed your hand on my head.
You were the first person to make me feel chosen, important, loved.
For three years, my life had purpose.
Three years rendered completely meaningless
in light of this moment,
staring up at your naked, crucified body,
as the crowds make a mockery of your so-called kingdom.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to end.
Sure, I remember you hinting at your impending death,
but you were always so cryptic and metaphorical all the time,
were we really supposed to take you seriously this time?
And what the hell are we supposed to do now?
You conveniently failed to mention that.
We’re almost certainly the next ones on the hit list,
are we supposed to turn ourselves in and jump up there next to you?
No, we’re left holding the pieces of your mess,
with all of our confusion and unanswered questions,
in a world full of people you didn’t get around to saving,
diseases you didn’t get around to curing,
wars you didn’t get around to ending,
a nation you didn’t get around to freeing.
I’ve seen your power.
I know the miracles you’re capable of.
You could be down off that cross and by our side in the blink of an eye.
So if you’re letting yourself just go on hanging there until you strangle to death,
it must be that you don’t actually want to help us.
You’re getting the hell out of here.
You’re ditching us, right after calling yourself our friend.
I gave up everything for you,
and you just… gave up.
My hope, my dreams, my faith,
they all die here with your very mortal body.
Just collateral damage.
Speaker 5 – thief - a rough-around-the-edges guy, joyful despite pain, hands bound
I always thought you were the One, the King.
but now, seeing you there, hanging between me and this other loser,
I know it’s true.
He might be a torn up, bloody mess,
But look at the love in his eyes,
absorbing all their hatred,
as he strains for breath.
I might not be the smartest guy,
(I mean, look where I ended up!)
But I know bullshit when I see it,
and I know the real deal.
This is the real deal.
Any king who would stay up here next to the likes of me,
suffer with me,
die with me,
that’s a king I’ll proudly serve,
in this life or the next.
Those idiots think they’ve got him beat
but they don’t.
That sign above his head?
They got it right after all.
Speaker 6 – Joseph - a sophisticated but humble man, sad, but with fierce hope
I didn’t always think he was the One.
I didn’t always think he was the true King.
Honestly, I still don’t know for sure.
I didn’t actually run with his crowd,
though sometimes I wished I had that freedom to follow him.
I’m constrained by my own place in society,
by the honor and curse of my membership in the Sanhedrin,
the high council,
surrounded by fearful little bullies.
Every day, I’m haunted by my own failures
to leverage my power for good.
But I’ve been looking for the kingdom.
I’ve been eagerly waiting for the kingdom of God.
And there’s just something about him.
…I mean, there was something about him.
I can’t exactly explain it,
but I needed to put his body in the ground,
I needed to show him that last kindness,
to restore some shred of dignity to this mutilated body.
It is not finished, not for the council.
Fear and paranoia spread like cancer
and that small act of burial may cost me my reputation, my membership,
who knows? maybe my life.
It doesn’t matter.
It had to be done.
I needed to plant that seed in the earth.
And now the sun has set.
Now it is the day of rest.
And I will keep on waiting.