I am Simon Peter. I grew up by the Sea of Galilee, and am a
fisherman by trade. Fishing is a hard life, but I'm good at it, and I
had expected to spend my entire life fishing in the Sea of Galilee.
But one day something happened that changed my life forever.
I'll never forget that day when my brother Andrew came and told me
that he had found the Messiah. We had been looking for the Messiah all
our lives, and I could scarcely believe my ears. I went with Andrew to
see this Jesus of Nazareth, whom he claimed was the Messiah. I had
never met anyone like Jesus before. He was so kind and
compassionate--not at all like I expected the Messiah to be. We were
looking for someone who would be a political leader--someone who would
overthrow Rome. I was ready to help such a person. But as I listened
to Jesus speak, I knew He would never lead us in a revolt against
SONG - The King Is Coming by William J. Gaither
His message was one of love and forgiveness. He spoke of the
kingdom of God as being within us. I could not understand all that He
said or what He meant. I just knew that I had to follow Him.
As I followed and listened, I saw Him do great miracles: He made
the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead live again. How
could I not believe what He said when I saw Him do these marvelous
things. And then He took James, John and me up to a high mountain, and
He was transfigured before our very eyes. It was as if we were in the
very presence of God Himself. What a wonderful experience! I knew He
was indeed the Messiah, the Son of God.
I am Mary Magdalene. For a large part of my life, I was a very
troubled woman. I was possessed by seven demons, and they controlled
my whole being. Do you have any idea what it's like to have no control
over what you do or say? I was a prisoner in my own body. There seemed
to be no help for me. No one could free me from my prison, and no one
seemed to care. I was all alone, tortured daily by my condition.
And then one day I heard about a man named Jesus of Nazareth. He
was healing people everywhere He went, and multitudes followed Him. I
decided to go to Him and see if He could help me. I had nothing to
lose if He couldn't.
When I found Him, it was almost impossible to get close to Him
because of the crowd. I have never met a man who is so compassionate
and kind as Jesus. When He looked at me, I could see the love and
concern in His eyes. The demons within me were afraid of this man.
They tried to get me to leave, but I could feel the power of Jesus
drawing me closer to Him. He spoke to the demons, and in an instant,
they were gone, and I was free. I can't find words to describe how I
felt. It was as if chains had been removed from my body and soul. I
felt as free as a bird soaring high above the clouds. After all those
years, I was in control of my body and mind. My heart was full of
gratitude, and I fell on my knees and worshiped Jesus. Not only was
I am free from the demons, but I had found a friend--someone who cared
about ME. No one in my whole life had ever cared for me like Jesus.
Love radiated from Him.
SONG - He Touched Me by William J. Gaither
I listened as He taught, and I became one of His followers, going
wherever He went along with His disciples and some other women. Jesus
cared about everyone and ministered to all in need. He taught us about
the love of God and showed us how to love those around us. He gave us
something no one could ever take away. I accompanied Jesus on His last
trip to Jerusalem. His disciples feared for His life, and tried to
keep Him from going, but He was determined. He said His time had come,
but we didn't know what He meant.
The scribes and Pharisees were always trying to find fault with
Him, and I feared for His life. As the Passover drew nearer and He
made plans to go to Jerusalem, we tried to persuade Him not to go, but
He was determined. He sent John and me to engage a room and prepare
the Passover feast. During supper, He talked about His suffering and
that He wouldn't eat again until the Kingdom of God came. We didn't
understand what He was talking about. He talked about His betrayer
being among us, and we were all shocked. Surely none of us would do
such a terrible thing as to betray Him.
After supper He took a basin of water and a towel, and began
washing the feet of each of us. When He came to me, I drew back.
Imagine! My lord washing my feet. But He said if I didn't have my feet
washed, I could have no part of Him. He was so mysterious. I just
didn't understand. He was trying to teach us to be servants. I told
Him that I would never leave Him; that I would be willing to lay down
my life for Him. And He said that I would deny that I even knew Him
three times before the night was over. Who? ME??? Deny my Lord.
After He spoke to us for awhile and we sang a hymn, He led us to
the Garden of Gethsemane. He took James, John, and me farther into the
garden, leaving the others behind. And then He left us and told us to
watch and pray with Him. He went in a little farther and fell on His
knees, and cried out to God. He begged for God to take away the cup
from Him if it were God's will. Never have I seen such agony as He
prayed. But the harder I tried to stay awake, the sleepier I became,
and I fell asleep. Jesus returned and woke me, asking me to please
watch and pray with Him, but sleep overtook me again, and He returned
to find me sleeping. I felt so unworthy. I knew I had let him down.
Just when He needed me most, I went to sleep.
And then there was a loud commotion, and a multitude of people
came, carrying swords and lights. And believe it or not, Judas was
leading them. Judas stepped forward and kissed Jesus, and said this is
the one. They grabbed Jesus and prepared to take Him away. No one was
trying to stop them. I couldn't let that happen. I had to do
something, so I grabbed my sword and cut off the ear of the High
Priest's servant. I'll show them, I thought. But Jesus reprimanded me,
and healed the servant's ear. Jesus didn't try to resist them. It was
as if He was giving Himself over to them.
They led Him away to the high priest's house. I followed at a
distance. I didn't know what to do. I was afraid. Have you ever been
so afraid and confused that you had no idea what to do? That's how I
felt. I watched as they mocked Him and beat Him and questioned Him. No
matter what they did to Him, He showed no resistance. As I watched,
three people asked me if I was with Him, or if I knew Him. I was
afraid, and three times, I swore that I did not know Him, that I had
never seen Him. And then the ROOSTER CROWED, and Jesus' words crushed
down on me like a ton of rocks. I wish that I could have been covered
by rocks or that the mountains would fall on me, because I had DENIED
Him. I, Peter, who said that I would die for Him. I couldn't even be
strong enough to admit that I knew Him. I was afraid for my life, but
what would my life be without Him. I was so ashamed that I left and
fell on my face and cried loudly. How could He ever forgive me? How
could I ever forgive myself? I had deserted Him. What good was I? When
He needed me most, I failed Him. I left Him alone to face His
I am Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator of Palestine. I'm stuck
in this land forsaken by all the gods. When I first arrived here, I
enjoyed tormenting the Jews, but they complained so outrageously to
Rome that I've had to temper my behavior. I am in Jerusalem to keep
order during the Passover Feast held by the Jews. It seems like they
never tire of these feasts, and they always have some kind of uproar
going on. From time to time some Hebrew or another claims to be their
Messiah, who will overthrow the Roman government. Hah! That's a laugh.
No one will overthrow Rome.
And then early in the morning, a group of the religious leaders
brought this person called Jesus of Nazareth to me. They wanted me to
judge him. When I told them to try him according to their law, they
reminded me that it was not legal for them to put any man to death.
They can be so proper at times. They accused him of trying to become
king. I questioned him, by asking him if he were a king. He replied,
"My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this
world, then would not my servants fight, that I should not be
delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." I
asked him if he were a king and he answered, "You say that I am a
king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the
world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of
the truth heareth my voice."
I could find no fault in him. He seemed to possess a certain
quality and power that I could not explain. As far as I was concerned,
he was innocent of any wrong doing. I told the Jews this, and offered
to release him. It was the custom to release a criminal at the time of
the Passover. But the Jews refused Jesus, and asked for Barabbas, a
known robber, to be released. So I had Jesus beaten, and the soldiers
platted a crown of thorns and placed on his head, and dressed him in a
purple robe. Then I presented him to the Jews, telling them that I
found no fault with him. But they cried "Crucify him, crucify
him. According to our law, he must die, because he has called himself
the Son of God."
I was terrified by this. Suppose this man was the Son of a God. He
might strike me dead. I went back in and asked this Jesus who he was,
but he would not answer me. I told him that I had the power to release
him or to crucify him, and he replied,
"You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been
given you from above. "
I pleaded with the Jews to let me release him, because I found no
fault with him. And they said I was no friend of Caesar if I let Jesus
go. That did it!! I would not be accused of being disloyal to Caesar.
I asked for a basin of water and I washed my hands of the whole
affair, telling the Jews that this man's blood would not be on my
hands. They were more than willing to take the responsibility for his
death. I handed Jesus over to them, and they led him away to be
They took Him to Pilate for trial. Pilate said he found no fault
with Jesus and wanted to release Him, but the crowd cried for His
death. Pilate had Him beaten and had a crown of thorns placed on
Jesus' head, and again asked if he could release Jesus. But the mob
cried "Crucify Him, and give us Barabbas. Crucify Him. Crucify
Him." Imagine! Asking for a criminal like Barabbas to be released
instead of my loving Lord. What wrong had Jesus ever done? Absolutely
nothing. But the scribes and Pharisees had the mob so worked up, that
they didn't know what they were saying. The mob just repeated the
words of the scribes and Pharisees. "Crucify Him, crucify
I watched as they led Him away toward Golgotha. He stumbled under
the load of the cross He carried, but when I looked into His eyes, I
knew that He was carrying much more than a wooden cross. My heart
ached for Him, but what could I do.
I am a Roman soldier, an officer in Caesar's army. I am in charge
of one hundred men, and I was serving in Judea when Jesus of Nazareth
was crucified. What a place to be! The Israelites despised us Romans,
and we had little love for them. There was always some kind of
uprising going on. Judea was a far cry from Rome with all its grandeur
and gaiety. Judea was a very troubled place--not the ideal spot to be
stationed, but as a soldier, I went where I was sent, and obeyed the
orders handed to me. I had one allegiance and that was to Caesar.
Almost everyone in and around Judea had heard of this Jesus of
Nazareth. He was a great teacher and healer, so they said.
But the religious leaders of Jerusalem were afraid of him. When
they brought him to Pilate to be tried, Pilate found no fault with
him. Pilate wanted to release him, but the people were loudly crying
for his crucifixion. A mob had gathered outside of Pilate's palace,
and the mob was in a state of frenzy. It would have taken an army to
quiet them down. I think Pilate was afraid of the power of Jesus, but
more afraid of being accused of being disloyal to Caesar. Pilate
finally let the people have their way, and after having Jesus
scourged, sent him off to be crucified. I was in charge of the
I heard He had been arrested and was going to be crucified. WHY???
What had Jesus done to deserve such a terrible sentence? He had never
done anything but good. Why was this happening to someone so full of
love and kindness? This was my Lord! How could something so awful be
happening? I followed the crowd to the hill outside of Jerusalem and
heard the jeers and angry shouts. I watched as the Roman soldiers
nailed Jesus to the cross, and I flinched each time the hammer struck.
(Sound of pounding is heard.) I watched as they raised the cross into
the air and dropped it into the hole. His whole body jerked, and He
groaned with pain. I felt sick on my stomach and my body was covered
with a cold sweat. But I couldn't leave. I couldn't desert my Lord
now. My mind kept crying out WHY, WHY, WHY? What has He done? That is
my Savior hanging on that cross suffering such agony. He is so good
and kind and gentle and loving. He doesn't deserve this. Why, O Lord,
I watched as they nailed Him to the cross, and placed it between
two thieves. He hung there, dying. And as He died, my dreams died with
Him. He was my Lord and Messiah. He told us He would always be with
us, but He was dying. I had denied Him, and forsaken Him. I hadn't
even had a chance to ask for His forgiveness. And now He was dying and
leaving me alone. Alone. What would I do without Him. How could I go
Some of the onlookers left, but I couldn't. It was as if I were
glued to the spot. It was a terrible, ugly scene, but I couldn't make
myself leave. I sobbed, and I wailed.
I had a sign made to be placed over his head. It said, Jesus of
Nazareth, King of the Jews. The Jews were unhappy with the wording,
but I would not change it. I believe he was a king.
As a Roman officer, I had seen many crucifixions and indeed, had
been in charge of many. Crucifixion was a cruel and ugly death, and I
assumed this one would be like all the others. But there was something
about this man Jesus. He was indeed different. He refused the vinegar
mixed with gall which was to help deaden the pangs of suffering. It
was as if he had to suffer and experience the pain. He never once
complained. Most criminals cursed and yelled. Not Jesus. The religious
rulers and some of the Roman soldiers mocked him as he hung on the
cross. They shouted insults and insisted that he save himself
according to his claim. And instead of becoming angry, he said
"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
Never in all of Rome had I ever witnessed such love and forgiveness. I
wondered how someone hanging on a cross could possibly forgive those
who tormented and tortured him.
And suddenly about the sixth hour the sun disappeared and there was
total darkness. What could this mean? The darkness lasted for three
hours, and finally Jesus gave a loud moan, and died. Then the earth
began to shake and the rocks rumbled and fell. Everyone was terrified,
including me. As a soldier I am afraid of nothing, but this was
entirely different It was as if the gods had pulled out all the stops
and were showing how displeased they were with us. How can anyone
fight the gods? And then as if a great light dawned upon me, I
realized that this Jesus must have been someone extraordinary. He must
be the Son of the one true God. Not the gods we worship in Rome, but
the Jehovah God that the Israelites talk about and believe in so
strongly. I shuddered to think what kind of punishment this God might
send upon us. Like Pilate, I wished that I could have washed my hands
of the whole mess. This was one crucifixion that I wished I had had no
part in. Jesus of Nazareth was no ordinary man -- He was the Son of
And then it was over. He was DEAD. What would happen to me and the
other disciples? Would the scribes and Pharisees try to kill us too?
It was all over, and they took the body down. I watched as Joseph
took the body to his grave and placed it in the tomb. I have never
felt so lonely and helpless. There was such a void in my heart.
After his death, the Jews came requesting a guard to be placed at
the tomb. They were afraid someone would steal his body, and claim
that he had risen. This man Jesus is more than an ordinary man.
Although I washed my hands of him, I cannot forget him. He plagues me
day and night. I allowed a mob to convince me to condemn an innocent
man. That knowledge is something nothing can wash away. I'll go to my
death knowing that I let an innocent man be crucified.
After we observed the Sabbath, some of the other women and I went
to the tomb to anoint the body. We talked as we went, wondering how we
would be able to move the huge rock in front of the tomb. Imagine our
surprise when we saw that the tomb was open and empty!
We saw a young man in a white robe sitting in the tomb, and he said
to us, "Do not be afraid. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was
crucified. He is risen! He is not here." It was almost impossible
to comprehend what he was saying. How could Jesus be alive? I had seen
Him die. I had seen Him buried. How could He be alive? But the young
man insisted that Jesus was risen. He told me to go tell the
disciples. So I went and told Peter and John.
John and I were together on the first day of the week when Mary
Magdalene came and told us that Jesus was alive. How could this be? I
saw Him die on the cross. But Mary insisted. " Go, look for
yourself," she said. So John and I ran to the tomb. John got
there first, and he stopped outside, but I ran on in. Jesus was gone!
His grave clothes were lying there. Could it be? Was He really alive?
Peter and John returned home. I stood outside the tomb crying.
Again I looked inside the tomb and saw two angels sitting where Jesus'
body had lain. They asked me why I was crying, and I said,
"Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where
they have laid Him." Then I turned around and saw a man standing
there. He said to me, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you
I thought he was the gardener, and I asked Him, "Sir, if you
have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will
take Him away."
Then He said to me, "Mary!"
In that instant I realized that He was Jesus. I fell down and
worshiped Him. I was so happy to see Him. He IS ALIVE! I went again
and told the disciples that I had seen Jesus and that He IS ALIVE.
They had trouble believing me, but it's true. HE IS RISEN. I still
don't know why He chose me to be the first one to see Him instead of
Peter or John, but I'm so happy. He is such a wonderful friend, and He
IS my Savior and Lord. HE IS RISEN and He lives today. He IS LORD of
I returned to my home and thought about how I had
denied Him. If He were alive, what would He say? How could I ever ask
for His forgiveness. Everything He had ever said was true. He knew
that I was weak, and that I would deny Him. How could I live with
myself? As I considered all these things, suddenly I was aware of His
presence in the room with me. I was dumbfounded. How could this be? I
fell to my knees before Him. And then I felt His love and power reach
out to me, and cover me like a blanket. I knew that, unworthy as I
was, He had forgiven me and that He loved me. I looked up at Him, and
my heart sang. He's ALIVE. HE'S ALIVE. HE'S ALIVE AND I'M FORGIVEN.
And he loves me.
SONG - He's Alive by Don Francisco
Just as He loved me, He loves you. And He'll forgive you just as He
forgave me. He's alive and He lives forever. Praise God. HE'S ALIVE.
I'm here to tell you that HE IS RISEN and that He loves and cares
like no one else can. He loved me; he helped me; he cared about me; he
saved me. If he did all this for me, someone so unworthy and helpless,
you have to know that HE loves you and cares about you. Above all, you
must believe that HE IS RISEN and THAT HE LIVES TODAY. He is here
right now. Don't you feel His presence? Fall down and worship HIM!
SONG - Because He Lives by Gloria and William
1998 Nancy Hedrick Harper
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