27 January 1997

Carpenter: Act 3 - Triumphal Entry

Follows congregational singing of Hosanna.

Scene 1: Centurion Report

Lights on stage left, Centurion.

Centurion saluting: My Lord, I bring disturbing news. Jesus of Nazareth has entered Jerusalem and been hailed by the people as a king. But not like any king I've ever heard of. He came in riding a donkey, of all things!

Pilate: Why have you not arrested him for sedition?

Centurion: That's the problem, Your Excellency. He has said nothing which could be interpreted as seditious, and has taken no action which in any way violates Roman law. His only offenses are against the leaders of his religion, who he accuses of hypocrisy. They, in turn, accuse him of blasphemy against their God. They would arrest him themselves, but they are afraid the crowds would start a riot.

Pilate: So, you are telling me we are facing a civil war in Jerusalem, and there is nothing we can do about it?

Centurion: No, my Lord. Nothing legal, my Lord.

Pilate: Pause. Very well. Stay alert for opportunities to cooperate with our Jewish subjects in keeping the peace. I don't care a whit about their religious squabbles, but you will do whatever is necessary to preserve the peace and protect the interests of Rome. Is that understood?

Centurion saluting: Yes, Your Excellency. Exits.

Scene 2: The Temple

(Lk 19:45-46; Jn 2:14-16)

Lights on stage right, Satan hiding in corner. Enter merchants with items for sacrifice, bartering with townsfolk.

Merchant 1: Come here to get your money changed, the best rates in Jerusalem!

Lights on stage left. Enter Jesus and disciples.

Merchant 2: Come here to get the finest lambs and doves for your sacrifice, and unleavened bread for your feasts!

When Jesus sees the merchants, he grabs a rope and rushes at them, overturning their tables and benches, and using the rope as a whip to drive them offstage.

Jesus: My Temple will be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves!

Scene 3: Pharisees Question Jesus' Authority

(Mt 21:23-27; 22:15-22)

Enter Pharisees, outraged, stage right.

Pharisee 1: By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?

Jesus: I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism – where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?

Pharisee 2 aside, to other Pharisees: If we say, "From heaven," he will ask, "Then why didn't you believe him?"

Pharisee 3 aside, to other Pharisees: But if we say, "From men," the people will turn on us, for they all believe that John was a prophet.

Pharisee 4: We don't know.

Jesus: Then neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

Pharisees mutter among themselves.

Pharisee 4: Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Tell us, then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?

Jesus: You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me a denarius. Pharisee 2 does so. Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?

Pharisee 4: Caesar's.

Jesus: Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, but give to God what is God's.

Scene 4: Jesus Predicts His Death

(Mt 26:1-2; 16:21-23; 17:22-23)

Exit Pharisees stage right. Jesus and disciples sit and rest, stage left. Lights off all but stage left. Satan moves in, unobserved, crouches behind Peter.

Jesus tired: As you know, the Passover is two days away – and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.

Satan whispers in Peter's ear.

Peter: Never, Lord! God would never let that happen to you!

Jesus to Peter: Get behind me, Satan! Satan jumps away and huddles in darkness, stage right. You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.

Listen, all of you. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.

Scene 5: Anointing

(Mt 26:6-13; Lk 7:36-50; Jn 12:1-8)

Mary produces a bottle of perfume and empties it over Jesus, then bows before him. Jesus starts in surprise, then laughs and reaches out and hugs her. The other disciples are shocked at first, then hesitantly laugh, all except Judas.

Judas: Why this waste of such an expensive perfume? We could have sold it for a year's wages and given the money to the poor.

Jesus: Leave her alone! She has done a beautiful thing for me, pouring perfume on my body to prepare me for my burial. The poor you will have with you always, but you will not always have me. You may be sure that wherever the good news is told all over the world, people will remember what she has done.

Judas runs off in fury, toward stage right. The others laugh and ignore him, except for Jesus (and Mary?), who watches him in concern.

Scene 6: Bag of Silver

Lights dim, on stage right. Soft, suspenseful background music. Enter Pharisees stage right, joined by Judas. Satan approaches, unnoticed. Jesus turns to other disciples and converses silently. Judas silently bargains with Pharisees, and Caiaphas gestures for Pharisee to give Judas a bag of silver. Exeunt.

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