Summary: A short sketch based on the Roman Centurion’s experience of the crucifixion.
Style: Dramatic. Duration: 5min
Scripture: The crucifixion accounts in Luke 23 and Matthew 27.
Actors: 1M, 1F
The un-named Centurion and his wife.
Centurion: (Enters, looking tired. The only signs of his job are his open-toed sandals) Darling, I’m home!
Wife: (Off-stage) In a minute honey, I’m just washing the dishes!
Centurion: When’s supper, I’m starving? (Sits down and tries to reach sandals, but can’t). Oh this is too much. I’ve had a horrid day and I really need to give up on this Roman Centurion lark. I’m too old.
Wife: (Coming in with drying cloth) What’s that honey?
Centurion: I said I’ve had a horrid day at work and right now I don’t want to be a Centurion any more.
Wife : (Sympathetically) Oh, you poor thing. So why was it such a bad day?
Centurion: Well, it was a crucifixion day, and I hate them.
Wife: But you‘ve done loads of crucifixions, darling. Why was this one any different?
Centurion: It just was. I’m still trying to work it all out. You know that mate of mine at work who got transferred to Capernaum?
Wife: The one who’s servant fell really ill?
Centurion: That’s the one. Do you remember my telling you that the servant was miraculously healed after my mate met this man from Nazareth?
Wife: Oh yes. And they say that your friend left the Roman army and was never the same again. He gave all his possessions away and started doing crazy things like loving his neighbour.
Centurion: Exactly! We all thought he’d gone out of his mind. Anyway, this man from Nazareth, Jesus was his name, he was on the crucifixion list today.
Wife: Why, if all he did was go round healing people? Why is that a crime? You normally just crucify common criminals and Jewish rebels.
Centurion: Don’t ask me. But whatever he’d done, it must have been bad. We gave him a really hard time. We beat him beforehand, really badly. Then there was the bit I hate, the cross. I had to bang the nails in, and his cry of agony, well, it will haunt me forever. And we didn’t even let him die in peace. As he hung there, we mocked him. They’d stuck this sign on the top the cross, “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”, so we taunted him. “If you’re a King, and you save people, why not save yourself?” It was awful.
Wife: You were just doing your job, darling.
Centurion: But that’s not the half of it. You know that one of the perks of the job is to get the possessions of the crucified criminal? Well, me and my mates, we were divvying up this Jesus’s clothes, which I have to say did not amount to very much, when I am sure I heard him say something, up there on the cross.
Wife: What was it?
Centurion: At first I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Because I’m sure I heard him look up to the sky and say: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Wife: Oh, was his father there then?
Centurion: That’s the point. I asked someone and they said his father, Joseph, died years ago. So who was this man talking to? Who was this ‘father in heaven’? And why did he ask for forgiveness when we had treated him so brutally? I don’t understand it, I really don’t.
Wife: Well, it’s over now honey. I’ll get you your supper and you can put your feet up and relax.
Centurion: (Stands up agitated) But that’s exactly it, I can’t relax! You see, even that was not the end of the story. It took this man Jesus six hours to die. And just before he did – I remember the moment even now - he spoke to this ‘Father’ of his again, and the whole sky went dark, even though it was the middle of the day. And what’s worse, the earth started shaking. I was really scared. And then he just seemed to give up his life. I’d never a seen a death like it.
Wifev It was just a death, darling. Like all the others you’ve seen. You’re a Roman soldier. An officer. You deal in death every day. Why was this any different?
Centurion: (Turning to face his wife directly) It just was. And I still haven’t told you the craziest thing. You see, right at the very last moment, just before this Jesus died, when the sky went dark and the earth beneath me moved, I saw his lips moving, and I’m sure, absolutely sure, he was whispering my name.
Wife: But honey, how could he have known your name?
Centurion: Well, he couldn’t have known it. And yet the soldier next to me, he told me he had the same weird experience. That at the very last moment, Jesus was whispering his name, too.
Wife: That’s impossible.
Centurion: I know. It’s as if he knew me, as if he knew all of us stood there at the foot of his cross.
Wife: So what do you make of it all?
Wife : Yes, truly.
Centurionv Truly…this man was the Son of God.
© Jeremy Moodey 2012
All rights reserved
This drama may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed.
Contact Jeremy at j_moodey<at>hotmail.com