Summary: A short sketch in which a judge gives his summation to an imaginary jury about who Jesus was, based on Jesus’ own words on the cross.
Style: dramatic Duration: 5 min
Scripture: Jesus’ words from the cross as recorded in Luke 23, Matthew 27 and John 19.
One: a judge, dressed in judicial garb, sitting at a ‘bench’.
(The judge enters solemnly, sits down and addresses an imaginary jury)
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the time has come for me as judge to offer my summary of the evidence you have heard in connection with the death by crucifixion of, er (checks his notes) Jesus Christ. I will give you some advice and directions, and then you must retire and consider your verdict.
The case before you today is very simple: was this man Jesus Christ really who he claimed to be, the Son of God who came to save mankind from their sins, or was he – as others claimed, including the prosecution led by Mr Dawkins QC – was he a common criminal and rabble-rouser who suffered from, to use Mr Dawkins’ memorable phrase, “a God delusion”?
The case for the prosecution was made very eloquently by Mr Dawkins and rested on Jesus’ own words from the cross, as reported by those who were there. The prosecution noted that at one point Jesus appeared to cry out the words (consults his notes) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” On another occasion Jesus declared to the Roman guards that he was thirsty, prompting them to offer him some wine vinegar to drink.
You will recall, ladies and gentlemen, the prosecution’s assertion that these very words revealed that Jesus could not possibly have been the Son of God. For if he had been God’s one and only son, then his Father “in Heaven” would surely not have forsaken him, or allowed him to be thirsty, or indeed permitted him to suffer and to die in such a terrible way. A point that was made to Jesus, we heard, rather cruelly by some of the spectators who were there; you will recall that they invited him to “come down from the cross” if he was the Son of God.
Mr Dawkins’ argument is, it has to be said, compelling in its very simplicity. The defence case on the other hand, presented by Messrs Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, was less easy to understand. Indeed, there were moments, I am sure you will agree, when they almost seemed to be talking in Greek!
At the heart of their rebuttal of Mr Dawkins’ arguments was the notion that when Jesus expressed his sense of abandonment and his thirst, he was simply demonstrating his humanity. For this man, Jesus Christ, was both the Son of God and the Son of Man, an ordinary carpenter from Nazareth. When he cried out in pain and loneliness from the cross, this was Jesus the man crying out.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I do see some merit in this argument. The defence then went on to point to other words which Jesus uttered from the cross, which demonstrated his true nature. As the defence noted, nothing tests a person’s mettle more than how they face their own death.
The defence pointed out that God is a God of compassion and forgiveness, and that Jesus showed these very attributes when he asked someone to look after his mother Mary by uttering the words (consults notes): “woman, here is your son” and when he told that person, “here is your mother.” We were also told that Jesus forgave his tormentors, by saying (consults notes) “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”.
As jurors, you must ask yourselves whether any mere human being could show such compassion and forgiveness when contemplating their own brutal and humiliating death.
The defence also noted the confidence with which this man Jesus went to his death. We heard evidence that he told one of the robbers crucified next to him (consults notes) “truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” and his very final words before he died were “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” and “it is finished”. You have heard witness testimony that the very power and authenticity of these poignant last words prompted a Roman centurion no less to say: “Surely this man was the Son of God”.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this is a very important case, and the future of mankind itself depends on your decision. Please now retire, and consider carefully the evidence, and do not return to this court until you have reached a verdict.
© Jeremy Moodey 2013
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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.