By Kevin Penner
Philip and James start Good Friday speculating on whether Jesus is about to reveal his kingship...and end Saturday with the realisation that events have ended differently from what they hoped.
(James is sitting at a table. Philip enters. He is upbeat, while James is more quiet)
Philip: Hi, James. Where is everybody?
James: They went to prepare for the Passover supper.
Philip: (sits down at the table) Oh yeah? So, where's this meal going to happen?
James: Jesus just told the others to go into the city, meet a man carrying a jar of water, follow him to a house where the owner has a large upper room, all furnished, and make the preparations there.
Philip: I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Jesus does this all the time! I mean, remember the other day before that great parade? Jesus says, 'Go to such and such a place, and there'll be a donkey waiting for you.' It's amazing!
James: Yeah, well . . . it's Jesus.
Philip: What a week! I mean, we've been following Jesus now for, what, three years? It's never been like this. There were times, like when he fed all those people, and the time he raised Lazarus back to life, but, now . . . the whole town is talking! You see all those people at that parade? Waving those palm branches . . . and remember what they were saying? (James nods) Remember?
James: Yeah, I remember.
Philip: 'Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.' I tell ya, the time is ripe! We got the people in the palm of our hand, right now. I don't know what Jesus is waiting for. I mean, did ya see those Pharisees? They hate him. You can just about hear them grinding their teeth whenever He's talking. I love the way Jesus puts 'em in their place. They'd love to get rid of him. But they can't touch him! (Laughs) They wouldn't dare. He's just too popular right now. What's Jesus waiting for? They could crown Him and He could bring in His kingdom right now.
James: When the time is right, He'll act.
Philip: Yeah, but the time is right. I mean, we could take on the Romans, right now.
James: Oh, I don't know . . .
Philip: Yeah, but with Jesus?! Come on, remember the old stories? Gideon took on the Midianites with 300 men. Three hundred! There's three thousand in this city right now that would be out on the streets with a sword in a minute if Jesus gave the word.
James: Once Jesus gives the word, we'll do it . . .
Philip: (leans back in chair) But in the meantime, it's all right. Like I said, these last three years have a been quite a time. But, my folks keep bugging me, you know: 'Now Philip, isn't it time you got a real job. Why don't you get married and settle down?' But now, well even they have to admit I'm in the right place at the right time. I don't know about you, but I used to get a bit embarrassed at the looks we'd get from people in the synagogues and markets. But now, I bet they wish they were part of our group.
James: They can be part of our group. Anyone who follows Jesus can be His disciple.
Philip: (shrugs) Well, yeah, I know, but what I mean is, they probably wish they were part of the inner circle, like us. (pause) It'll be all right for us when the kingdom comes, eh?
James: What do you mean?
Philip: Well, you know. Jesus'll need guys like us to help Him rule this place. (laughs) Hey, maybe we'll even get to live in the governor's mansion. (Louder:) Hey Pontius Pilate, how would you like that?
James: Ah, don't talk like that.
Philip: Hey, what's the matter? Don't tell me you've never had any ambitions. Wasn't it just a little while ago you and John were asking to sit at Jesus' right and left when He came to power? And don't say it was your mother's idea.
James: Yeah, but you remember what Jesus said.
Philip: Oh yeah. You guys got rebuked.
James: We all got rebuked.
Philip: Yeah, yeah, I know. Whoever wants to be great must be a servant. Jesus came to be a servant. But I don't understand it. How's He gonna change the world by being a servant?
James: If everybody acted more like servants, this world would be a much better place.
(Judas enters left, carrying a money bag)
Philip: (nods sarcastically) In a perfect world . . . well it ain't a perfect world. (sees Judas) I say we take action, right Judas? (Judas jumps and tries to hide bag. He is about to exit right) Hey, what you got there? Money? You missed the others. They all went to get supper ready. They might need that cash to pay for the food. (Judas exits quickly right) What's he hiding? (grins) Maybe he's planning a surprise for later this evening? Hey, James, you're in the inner inner circle. What's up for tonight? Or aren't you telling?
James: (quietly) I don't know. It's up to Jesus, I guess.
Philip: Hey James, what's gotten into you? You're moping! Just like Jesus. He's been real strong in public, but when He's with us, He's down, like He's depressed or something.
James: Yeah, He keeps talking about dying.
Philip: Yeah, but He's talking figuratively, right? You know . . . the meek and mild Son of Man has to die, and the new, great Messiah King has to arise!
James: I don't know, Philip. I think something's gonna go wrong. I've got a bad feeling about this.
Philip: Aw, you're just imagining things. Hey, I think the others are here. Let's go. (they exit)
Saturday (James is sitting at a table as before. Philip enters. He is distraught throughout most of scene, while James is quietly optimistic.)
Philip: Aw James. Aw man. (He stumbles into his chair, and buries face in his hands) Aw, I think I'm gonna be sick. (Long pause) You hear about Judas? (James nods) I can't believe it! Judas! I never knew . . .
James: He was a tortured soul.
Philip: You knew stuff about him? How much did you guys know?
James: We had no idea really. I guess Judas was getting pretty strung out. He was like you -- he wanted Jesus to bring in the kingdom now. Maybe he thought he could force Jesus' hand, I don't know.
Philip: Yeah, but to betray Him . . . I feel like such an idiot. I didn't even know he was betraying Jesus . . . I thought it was just, you know, Judas saying, 'Hi Jesus, I'm back'. (pause) And then, they took Him away, and what did we do? We ran . . . like a bunch of cowards. Look at me! Do I look like a coward?
James: (quietly) We were all cowards.
Philip: But hey, I didn't deny Jesus.
James: (intensely) We all denied Jesus! At least Peter pulled out his sword. Then he went along to see what was going on. I don't know what I would have done in his place. (pause) I wouldn't be too hard on him. He's not doing too well right now.
Philip: Well I'm not doing too well right now, either! I mean, I'm unravelling, okay? (breathing quickly) I mean, what's the point anymore? What are we gonna do? I gotta do something. (gets up and start pacing around) I can't just sit around. But I can't go out -- I'd be the laughingstock of everyone I know. Or worse yet, I'd get these sympathetic looks 'Poor boy. He followed Jesus. Too bad it didn't work out.' (sits down) This is the worst thing. I can't do anything. I mean, you can bet those Pharisees are just waiting for us -- first sign of trouble and they'll have us put away. Look what they did to Jesus. (softly) Look what they did to Jesus. (pause) Were you there when they . . . when He . . .
James: No, I . . . wasn't there. John was. He told me . . . pretty much everything.
Philip: Was it really bad?
James: Yeah, it was . . . really bad. They beat Him up pretty much before He even left Pilate's place. Those soldiers . . . bunch of animals . . .
Philip: I can't believe they actually crucified Him. This is all so unreal. Like a bad dream. Like we're all going to wake up and it'll be back to normal, and we're back with Jesus.
James: Yeah, I know what you mean.
Philip: But this isn't a dream. I mean, let's face reality, right? I'm such an idiot . . . I can't believe I went on and on the other day about Jesus bringing in His kingdom -- who was I trying to fool? (pause, then crying:) Did you ever have a dream when you were a kid, that you got some great toy you had always wanted and when you woke up you thought you'd go and play with it . . . and then you realized it was all a dream, that it wasn't there, you'd just imagined it? Well that's the way it's been these last three years with Jesus. I wanted so badly for it all to be true, you know? It was like a dream. (pause) You remember when we first heard Jesus talk. It was like . . . it was like drinking the coldest, sweetest water after a hard day out in the hot sun. He spoke with authority so . . . so real, not like those decrepit, dry old Pharisees. And then do you remember when He came up to us and looked us right in the eye? Remember what He said?
James: Yeah, I remember. He said . . . Follow me.
Philip: That was the high point of my life. Here's this incredible guy who comes up to me and says 'Follow me.' I felt like 'Who, me? You want me to follow you?' And Jesus, -- you know how He could look at you with those eyes and speak to you without a word -- Jesus was saying, 'Yes, Philip. I want you. But you're going to have to let go of everything and follow me.' He didn't have to say it twice. I was pretty puffed up there for a while. But Jesus took me down a peg or two.
James: Yeah, but you could take it from Jesus because you knew He was doing it for your own good. You knew He loved you.
Philip: That's it, isn't it. He really loved me. He's the only one who ever really loved me, and now He's gone. What am I going to do? It's all right for you -- you've got your wives, your fishing jobs. I gave it all up! I've got nothing left. What am I going to do? (puts his face in his hands, crying)
James: Hey, Phil . . . Philip . . . it's okay. (puts his arm around Philip's shoulders) Look, we're in this together. We're all still here. Judas is gone, but the rest of us . . .
Philip: Aw, what do you care about me? Why should you?
James: I love you, man. You're part of the group. We're not splitting up now. Don't you remember what Jesus told us the night He was betrayed? 'A new commandment I give you: Love one another.' We gotta do it. You know, all the stuff He said . . .
Philip: I wish I'd been paying better attention that night. It's all pretty fuzzy in my memory right now. What was He talking about . . . at the supper?
James: John's been writing it down all this morning. He gave me some of it.
Philip: (eagerly) Oh really? Let's hear it!
James: (reading:) Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.
Philip: Yeah, and then He said, 'I go to prepare a place for you.' and 'I'll come back and take you there to be with me.' And then . . .
James: Then you asked Him a question, didn't you? Can you remember? John wanted me to ask you so I could write it down. (he writes as Philip speaks)
Philip: Yeah, yeah, I asked Him . . . this is word for word: I asked Him 'Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.' And then He said . . . are you getting this down? He said, 'Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.'
James: That's right. Jesus and the Father were one. Jesus was God, right there with us, all the time, and we hardly knew it.
Philip: Yeah, and now God is dead.
James: No, He's not. They're praying to Him right now, over at our house. Come on, let's go join them.
Philip: I don't know.
James: Listen, I know it's all pretty bad right now, but I think something really deep is going on.
Philip: What do you mean?
James: Well, this morning Nathaniel's been going on about how Jesus is like the Lamb of God -- He shed His blood for our atonement, like at that first Passover. (pause) You heard about the veil in the temple?
Philip: No. What about it?
James: It got ripped from top to bottom! Yeah, yesterday afternoon, right around the time when Jesus died. It wasn't any person who did it -- they would have torn it up from the bottom. But the priest saw it -- ripped straight down from the top. God must have done it. I don't know what it all means, but it's pretty deep.
Philip: You think so?
James: Yeah, I think something is going to come out of all this. I've got a good feeling about this!
Philip: Well, you're the only one.
James: Are you coming?
Philip: Naw, I don't think so. Not right now. I, uh, I've been through this before and I want to believe, but I don't want another letdown. It's false hope.
James: Suit yourself. (stands, and puts his hand on Philip's shoulder) Just remember, we love you; we'll be praying for you. (he exits. After a slight pause:)
Philip: Hey James! Wait up. I'm coming. (he exits)
© Copyright Kevin Penner. All rights reserved.
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