Jesus Then and Now
by Ken Onstot
Scene 1: Upper Room, Jerusalem, 30 A.D.
Cast: Thomas Salome
Mary, Jesus' mother Joanna Peter
(Peter, Thomas, and Mary are seated on crates looking forlorn. There is a knock at the door.)
Thomas: Shhh! Someone's at the door. Don't let them know we are here.
Mary: Why not?
Thomas: It could be one of the guards from the temple or one of Pilate's soldiers. If they arrested Jesus, how do we know they won't arrest us?
Mary: But, Thomas, what if it's someone from our own group? Shouldn't we let them in?
(The knocking repeats.)
Peter (getting up): I'm going to open the door.
Thomas: What if it's a soldier looking for Jesus' followers?
Peter: I denied knowing him three times already; I'm not going to deny him again.
(Peter opens door; sees Salome)
Peter (with a big sigh of relief): It's just Salome. Come on in.
Salome (going over to Mary): How are you, Mary? It must have been awful watching your son die on a cross.
Mary (nodding): It was. It must have been the way God felt: watching his Son die on a cross.
Thomas: You still believe Jesus is God's Son, even after watching him die? The Son of God isn't supposed to die. He's supposed to save us from dying.
Mary: I know. I don't understand.
Salome (intervening): We all thought Jesus was God's Son. That's why we followed him. We cheered and waved palm branches when he entered Jerusalem because we thought he came to be a king, not a victim.
Thomas: We should have known he was a fake. All that talk about loving your enemies and turning the other cheek. No one ever got to be a king by turning the other cheek.
(There is another knock at the door. Everyone jumps.)
Thomas (to Salome): Were you followed?
Salome: I don't know.
Peter: Jesus wasn't afraid to have followers; neither should we. (He opens the door and sees Joanna.) Joanna, come in.
Joanna (out of breath from running): I just got back from the tomb.
Mary: What tomb?
Joanna: Jesus' tomb.
Peter: You know where they buried him?
Joanna: Yes. After all of you ran away, Mary Magdalene and I stayed. We watched him die on the cross, while he prayed for the people who put him there. They buried his body in a tomb donated by a man named Joseph.
Thomas: You could have been arrested.
Joanna: Should that stop us from following him?
Peter: Why did you go to the tomb?
Salome: We went to the tomb to anoint his body with spices.
Mary: You also were at the tomb?
Salome: I was going to tell you, but I didn't get the chance.
Thomas: Wasn't the tomb covered with a large stone? How did you get in?
Joanna: That's what I came to tell you. The stone was rolled away and the body was gone.
Salome: The tomb was open and the body was gone. The only thing left was the burial cloth they had wrapped around him.
Thomas: Are you sure you went to the right tomb?
Joanna: Of course. We saw exactly where they laid him.
Peter: Maybe someone moved the body after you left.
Thomas: Or stole it.
Mary: If you moved the body or stole it, would you unwrap it first and leave the burial cloth behind?
(Silence while everyone thinks about this.)
Thomas: Well, then, where is he?
(Another knock at the door. They all jump. Once again Peter opens it. Mary Magdalene is at the door.)
Magdalene (coming in, also breathless): Listen, all of you, Jesus is alive!
Thomas: He can't be alive. Joanna said she saw him die.
Magdalene: So did I. But when we went to the tomb it was empty.
Peter: Joanna just told us. What happened to the body?
Magdalene: Didn't she tell you about the two men?
Thomas: What two men? (Everyone looks at Joanna.)
Joanna (to Magdalene): I was afraid they wouldn't believe me.
Magdalene: There were two men at the tomb dressed in white. They said to us, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen."
Thomas: And you believe that?
Magdalene: How else do you explain that the body was missing?
Thomas: Lots of ways. Maybe you got confused and went to the wrong tomb. Maybe those two men took the body away. Maybe they were playing a horrible joke on you.
Peter: Or maybe they were telling the truth.
Thomas (going over to him): You believe that story about Jesus rising from the dead?
Peter: Don't you remember the miracles we saw Jesus perform? How he helped blind people see and paralyzed people walk? How he calmed the storm on the sea and fed 5000 people with a few loaves of bread and a couple fish? Couldn't someone like that rise from the dead?
Thomas: There's a big difference between helping a paralyzed person walk and rising from the dead.
Peter: Yes, but he told us it would happen. Don't you remember? When we were coming to Jerusalem he told us that he was going to die, but we didn't believe it.
Mary: I didn't want to believe it.
Peter: But he also told us he would rise from the dead. All the other things he promised came true. The paralyzed man walked, the storm on the sea stopped, he died on the cross. Everything happened the way he said it would. Shouldn't we believe him when he says he will rise from the dead?
Thomas: Then where is he? If he is really alive, shouldn't he be here?
Salome: Maybe he already is, and we just don't realize it.
Song during scene change
Scene 2: The Club House, Des Moines, 2016
Cast: Tom Sally
Mary Jo Pete Meg
(Pete, Tom, and Mary are sitting on crates looking downcast.)
Mary: I'm sure going to miss old Mr. Brown.
Pete: Me, too. Remember how he helped us make this clubhouse. He showed us how to nail the boards together and hang the door and everything.
Tom: Remember the time those bullies from school chased us. We ran in here to get away from them. They started tearing our clubhouse apart to get us, but Mr. Brown came out and told them to leave.
Pete: How come he died?
Mary: I don't know. I guess his body just wore out.
Pete: He sure was fun to talk to. I wish we could see him again.
(There is a knock at the door.)
Tom: Shh! It might be one of those bullies following us home from school. Don't let them know we are here.
Mary: What if it's one of our friends? Shouldn't we let them in?
Tom: Hmm, I guess you're right. We need some kind of code.
(The knocking repeats.)
Pete: I'm going to open the door.
Tom: What if it's the bullies?
Pete: Mr. Brown wasn't afraid of the bullies, and neither am I.
(Pete opens the door; sees Sally)
Pete (with a sigh of relief): It's just Sally. Come on in.
Sally: Thanks a lot. (Mocking) "It's just Sally. We don't need to open the door for her."
Mary: He did not mean it that way. We thought you might be one of the bullies who followed us home from school.
Sally: I sure miss Mr. Brown.
Mary: We all do. I guess he's with God now.
Tom: How do you know there is a God?
Pete: How do you think we got here, if there's no God?
Tom: I don't know. Maybe we were just a bunch of molecules floating around in space, and gravity brought them together to form the sun and the planets and everything else.
Mary: Then how come you ended us as a human being instead of a toad?
Pete: What are you talking about? He is a toad.
Tom (ignoring him): I don't know. How come the toad ended up as a toad instead of a human being? It just happened that way. Besides what difference does it make? They both end up dying and rotting in the ground.
Mary: The toad does, but somehow Mr. Brown is still with me.
(There is another knock at the door.)
Tom (to Sally): Were you followed by the bullies?
Sally: I don't think so.
Pete (to Tom): What are you going to do: not let anyone in? (He goes to the door and opens it. Jo comes in.)
Pete: Hi, Jo. Where you been?
Jo: I got out school to go to the funeral service for Mr. Brown.
Tom: You went to a funeral? Eww. Funerals freak me out.
Jo: I thought it was the least I could do. They told a lot of things about Mr. Brown at the service. Did you know he took meals to people who couldn't get out of their homes to buy groceries? And every year after a cold winter he planted flowers in front of the church to remind people how Jesus rose from the dead. They put some of his flowers on the casket.
Tom: You mean his body was there in a casket? Eww. What did they do with it?
Jo: After the service they took it to the cemetery and lowered it into a hole in the ground.
Tom: You see, it's just like the toad.
Mary: Do you think there would have been a church full of people telling stories and giving thanks for a toad? I think Mr. Brown is very much alive.
Tom: Then where is he?
(There is a knock at the door. They all jump. Once again Pete opens it. Meg comes in.)
Pete: Hi, Meg, we missed you at school. Where have you been?
Meg: Didn't Jo tell you? I went with her to the funeral service for Mr. Brown.
Mary: Was it sad?
Meg: In a way it was. People had tears in their eyes when they talked about Mr. Brown's Sunday School class.
Mary: Yeah, he always brought donuts. He said if Jesus could teach his disciples while they were eating, so could he.
Pete: Yeah, that was great.
Jo: There were many stories like that. The people seemed glad to remember them, but it also made them sad.
Sally: He was sure a good friend.
Mary: I will always remember him.
Meg: But then the pastor told about how Jesus rose from the dead on Easter and how we can be raised from the dead to be with him.
Mary: You mean that one day we will see him again?
Jo: And Mr. Brown, too.
Tom: You believe that?
Meg: If God can raise Jesus from the dead, why can't he raise us up?
Tom: How we do know that Jesus actually rose from the dead? We have been told he rose from the dead, but we haven't seen him.
Jo: Then why do people believe in him?
Tom: I don't know. Maybe they are all just toads.
Pete: I guess that's a possibility. But if Mr. Brown is a toad for believing in Jesus, then I'd like to be one, too.
Mary: So would I.
Jo: Me, too.
Meg: Count me in.
Tom: But if Jesus is alive why can't we see him?
Sally: Maybe we see him by the difference he makes in our lives.
Mary: And by the hope he gives us that no one else can.