Voices from the Foot of the Cross

Here is a series of monologues which can be used on their own or as part of a longer mediation on the cross and the response of several characters involved in the Good Friday story. Please ensure copyright information is kept with the scripts. Monologues 1 – 5 adapted where stated from “Voices from the crowd Holy Week Meditation 3” from “Stages on the way” (Wild Goose Publications 1998) © WGRG, Iona Community, G2 3DH 1. Jesus is condemned to death Mt 27. 1-2, 11-26 Monologue: Barabbas adapted from Stages on the Way WWRG Iona Community pg 148f And I’m Barabbas and I’m a free man, ooking at my cross, only I’m not on it I’m just standing here – alive and he is there dying I shouldn’t hang around here for long Everyone knows me and knows what I’ve done To some I’m a hero – a man of action To others – I’m a man to be feared my name is terror to the Romans They trapped me and arrested me It was inevitable I knew it would happen one day and so I wasn’t afraid They can kill me, but there’s one of me and I’ve killed lots of them So it’s been worth it The trial was a foregone conclusion So there I was sitting on death row waiting for the inevitable when I heard this chanting “Barabbas … Barabbas …” ll these people shouting my name over and over more trouble? I was up to my neck in trouble I was at the end of the line, on Death Row, I was going to be nailed to a cross naked laughed at and if I hadn’t died by sunset they would probably break my legs, just to hurry me along not even Pilate is stupid enough to leave us up there over the Sabbath So with that in mind I wasn’t really bothered what else they did to me they can’t do anything worse than crucifixion Having that hanging over you clears your mind, why be frightened of anything else? Next thing that happened there was a key turned in the lock and they unchained me ook me outside … and just let me go I stood there blinking in the sunlight not for very long I didn’t know what had happened but I could see my chance and I wasn’t going to hang around long enough for them to decide they’d made a mistake I ran and ran If I’ve got the story straight Pilate gave them the choice release Jesus or release me, Barabbas and they chose …me And for the first time since I don’t know when I feel … unsure no I’ll be honest … I feel scared Until today I’ve been certain The fight has been everything There has been nothing more important than our fight to cleanse our land of these filthy Romans And I was certain

It was all clear in my mind I would fight them and if I was caught I would die and it would be worth it the fight was everything and I was proud to die for the cause. I never felt more certain Only now something’s changed I feel like I’m part of something bigger than our fight yeah, even bigger than our fight It’s like I’m caught up in some other story and I don’t even know which side I’m on I never asked to join in but I’m feel like I’m involved and I don’t like it I don’t understand Jesus, what’s happening? What is going on? Why are you dying on my cross? it doesn’t make any sense You’re the dreamer – you’re the nice guy ll talk about the Kingdom but to what end? ‘cos you were never going to join our fight all dreams, all talk – no action but they say that in front of Pilate you said nothing and you’re now dying and I can’t understand why? Why does this feel like a nightmare? What cause are you dying for? are you dying for me? in my place? That makes no sense at all I’m the fearless man of action, – fight to the death but now I’m doing nothing just standing here and you’re up there on my cross and I feel scared 2. Jesus is flogged Mt 27. 26b But Pilate had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Monologue: Peter

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Would you be here if you were me? I’m Peter – that’s the name he gave me Peter – the rock That’s what Peter means – the rock Peter – the rock on which he was going to build his church No and I don’t understand that and I don’t expect you to, either Especially now – some rock I’ve turned out You see he trusted me and I promised never to desert him even if all the others did I, Peter, would stay by him That’s what rocks do – they don’t budge, they’re dependable Some rock I turned out That’s why I watching from a distance I’ve totally lost it I’ve lost my bottle I’ve lost everything – even the right to my new name nd now as I watch, I’m losing him It was last night when I started losing it, but I didn’t notice I was in the courtyard and they had Jesus in the main building they were throwing all sorts of accusations at him stupid things, twisting his words, because they’re cowards and idiots (pause) Not that I’m any different you see I was with him, I was keeping my promise, I wanted to stay as close to him as possible I would have done anything to stay there – I’d even lie. This servant girl comes up to me “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she says That must be when I first began to lose it I didn’t stop to think then

I just fired back, I said “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” All the same I moved back a bit, but they were onto me muttering away – I could see they didn’t believe me it was like they were calling me a liar because this other girl she shouts out so that everyone can hear “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth. ” I said “I don’t know the man! ” I might have sworn a bit as well to make them believe me why did they not believe me? – I don’t look like a liar After a bit they all started and I knew I’d said too much because they said “Surely you are one of them, your accent gives you away. I almost completely lost it then, but I was too furious to notice I must have said every word under the sun to convince them “I don’t know the man! ” Then, immediately after I’d said it, a rooster crowed. Then I knew I’d lost it. Jesus, what happens next? you always seemed to know what would happen next I thought when they flogged you, that would be the end how many men, strong men at that, can survive a Roman flogging? I thought that would be the end you, whipped to death. I’ve seen your back, from a distance I’ve seen what those jagged bones in the whip did to your back eating away at you earing the muscle from your bones These Romans are animals And yet you survived just Survived for what, because now it’s worse what could be worse than a Roman flogging – only a Roman cross These Romans are animals Do you know about me? Do you know you were right all along ? About me deserting you, about me denying you I am Simon – I’ve lost Peter I’ve lost it I’ve lost the person I was with you and now I’m losing you.

3. Jesus is mocked by the soldiers Mt 27. 27-31 Monologue: a soldier I’m one of those soldiers I had the afternoon off so I came along I’ll keep my name to myself I wish I hadn’t come ot now that I can see him I mean, by the time we got our hands on him this morning there wasn’t much left of him there never is much left after a flogging and he was a trouble maker …so they said the same as all those nutters from Galilee all the hotheads come from there, causing trouble, disturbing the people, like these people need much to get them going especially this week It’s one of their festivals Passover they call it And we’re all on edge in the garrison because things get a bit crazy at Passover it’s all something about them being set free from slavery I don’t know – sometime way back in the past omething about Egypt – lost on me but it’s important to them they all go a bit crazy And so all the lads are on edge we’re on the look out for them the nutters – any rabble raisers hit the leaders hard – that shuts the rest up all the lads had got a bit crazy They started it, the others, not me I wasn’t going to join in but once everyone was at him I couldn’t be left out that’s asking for trouble and anyway troublemakers get what’s coming to them he knew what he was doing last week when he rode that donkey into town he knew what was coming to him text book example bloke rides in on a donkey people wave palm branches hey go nuts and say the king has arrived and there’s trouble for everyone then we don’t need another of their ‘kings’ it’s just he didn’t look like trouble and even less so when they had dressed him up as a king someone got this scarlet robe I mean there’s no harm in having a laugh and he was asking for it anyway they put this scarlet robe on him and this crown of thorns – now that was nasty – those thorns are sharp the bloke who put it on his head reckons he came off worse all his hands were spiked and bleeding he’s a vicious one – he rammed it down on the prisoner’s head no, that was nasty I didn’t start the nasty stuff ut the nastier it got the more he looked at us not angry just sad if he’d been angry it would have been better I wish he’d been angry I wish he’d cursed us but he just looked at us, sad and frightened I wish I hadn’t done it I wish I could start today again but it was either that or set him free I had to do something – so I took the stick I snatched the stick the one they gave him as a staff to go with the crown he wouldn’t stop looking at me I had no choice it was too late by then the others had filled me with – like with this poison it was hit him or free him I couldn’t have done anything else t was like a madness blow after blow all about his head and there wasn’t much of him in the first place Jesus, I can’t look at you now even though they’ve now done worse to you but I can’t stop looking at you because you’re looking at them now like you looked at me no revenge no hatred just sadness sadness … not sadness for yourself, but for them and sadness for me as if I’m the one who deserves pity like I’m the one in real trouble

4. Jesus is crucified Mt 27. 32-37 Monologue: John adapted from Stages on the Way WWRG Iona Community pg 150 I am John. I have followed Jesus for near on three years ut I am ashamed to say I have been keeping my distance today. Things will get a bit too hot for me if I am seen by the Romans. Jesus kept on telling us, the other disciples and myself about him suffering and dying. I did listen but I just never thought it would happen and then when it started, it all happened so quickly. I cannot remember what I was doing or feeling, it is all a blur. I wanted to do one last thing for him but when I was needed I was not there. I would have carried his cross all the way to Golgotha if that would have spared him any pain but I was hiding, at the back of the crowd.

Instead they got a total stranger to do it: Simon from Cyrene. He said he would not have been in Jerusalem today if it had not been for business. The Romans just grabbed him, a complete stranger, out the crowd and made him carry Jesus’ cross. He reckoned they asked him because his colour makes him stand out and what can a black man say in a crowd of white people? So he carried the cross all the way here. Hadn’t got a clue why or what was going on. He watched with me for a while and he couldn’t understand. He kept on asking me: What was it all about? Why were they doing this to Jesus? What had he done to merit such degrading cruelty?

What sort of crime deserves the cross? I did not have any answers for him. We watched together in silence as they nailed Jesus to the cross. We flinched each time the hammer fell, driving the nails deeper and deeper into Jesus’ hands with each strike. I willed the hammer to miss but it hit home every time, twisting and tearing his hands, hands that had brought so much care to others. Simon from Cyrene kept on asking me “What could he have done to deserve this? ” Once again I had no answer for him. After they had nailed him to the cross, hands and feet, they lifted it up high. Some people actually cheered.

Can you believe it? They cheered! The cross thumped into place and I saw the agony on his face. Simon and I watched speechless. We were strangers to each other, I had known Jesus for ages and Simon had only just met him but we were both dumb struck with the horror of it all. Now I stand here watching you slowly die Jesus, I remember you told us you would suffer and die. I didn’t take it in then and I don’t understand it now. I want to do something to help you; anything …but all I can do is stand and watch helpless. The last person to help you was a complete stranger. Jesus, I so want to help you, but I can’t. . Jesus is mocked again Mt 27. 38-44 Monologue: The anonymous woman who anointed Jesus adapted from Stages on the Way WWRG Iona Community pg 150 I’m here and trying to think what to do for him. Something always occurs to me. I’m never normally at a loss for what to do. Don’t bother with my name – you’ll only forget it everyone else does. I’ve always got something to say for myself – I have to It’s the only way anyone would ever notice me. All those blokes who used to hang round, lording it over us, because they were his elite, his disciples – they were always noticed, we all know their names

I just don’t notice them now – they’ve all run off into hiding. Well there’s the advantage of being unremarkable no one notices me here now. Me, in a crowd of fools but I am not part of it. They pour out their cruel words, their cheap insults, they let all their scorn run over him – but I’ll have no part in that. I have no words and I can do nothing. Standing here looking at Jesus I am speechless just like the last time I saw him only a few days ago. I was in the house of Simon the Leper and he was there too and now I think of it he looked sad then he looked like a man with a lot on his mind, like he was carrying a great weight…

I don’t know what came over me – I really don’t I just knew what I had to do It felt like the most obvious thing, but I couldn’t have explained why. I had this jar of perfume, not any old perfume, but the really good stuff you know the really expensive stuff I’d been saving for months and months for this – I mean it, it wasn’t cheap. And I don’t know what came over me – I had to do it. I walked right up to him where he was reclining at the table and I poured the whole jar over him, every last drop and the perfume was incredible – the whole room was filled with it – I dare say the whole street was filled with it nd for a moment I couldn’t feel anything else other than this sense that I had done the right thing. But then I saw their faces – the faces that said it all. I mean his disciples, the elite, the know-it-alls. They made me doubt before they said anything. Judas then took the ‘waste of money approach’. He was being very sensible, talking about the cost of the perfume, and how I should have given the money to the poor. To the poor! To his pockets more like! Anyway, I’m not going to think of him – let him have his dirty money, it won’t do him any good. But then I looked at Jesus, and he was looking at me and he wasn’t angry.

And he provided the explanation – he told me what I’d just done and why I did it. He said, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. She poured perfume on my body to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will be told, in memory of her. ” Jesus, I am an ordinary woman. They didn’t bother with my name. But you said that wherever your story is told, then my part in your story will be remembered. You took my impulsive love then and made it noble – and I couldn’t understand what you meant – but I think I understand now.

You knew all this would happen. You knew that you would die like this. You knew that you would face senseless fools pouring insults over you. And now I have nothing to say. I have nothing I can do for you and this time I’m too afraid to step out of the crowd and risk being noticed. But I am here, please know that I am here. Please know that among all these mockers, among all these idiots who are screaming abuse at you – that I am here, I who poured perfume over you to prepare you for your burial, I am here. And I have no other words. 6. Jesus dies Mt 27. 45-56 Monologue: Mary Stages on the Way WWRG Iona Community ppg 152-153

I am his mother I am Mary. When he was a baby and old man told me that one day sorrow would pierce my heart like a sword. This is that day and my heart breaks as I watch him who put others before himself, being put to death before all the others. What can I say? Jesus, when you were a boy you once told me you had to be about your Father’s business. If this is your Father’s business and it has led you to this cross may it soon be finished. And may God, our Father who put you into my hands now take you into his. Monologue reproduced with kind permission from “Stages on the way” (Wild Goose Publications 1998) © WGRG, Iona Community, G2 3DH