Heís Alive
by Nancy Hedrick Harper

 
 
 

Story

This play tells the story of four people who knew Jesus or were associated with Him during His life and at the time of His death. Each person tells what he or she knew about Jesus and how Jesus changed that individualís life.

Characters

Simon Peter, Mary Magdalene, Pontius Pilate, The Centurion

Songs

There are several songs or hymns listed at different intervals throughout the play. Most are familiar and can be found in modern hymn books.

At the intervals where the word Song appears and none is listed, the director can select something of his own choosing. At the first production of this play, the chorus to "A Blessed Assurance" was used where no specific song was suggested.

Stage Setting

This play is intended to be given on an empty stage, with each actor reciting his monologue to the audience. The play is specifically designed to be given during a worship service, with the choir singing the songs, unless the actors want to sing the songs which relate to them.

 


SIMON PETER

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 anyone.

SONG - The King Is Coming by William J. Gaither

PETER

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.

SONG

MARY MAGDALENE

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.

SONG

MARY

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

MARY

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.

PETER

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. NEVER!!!

SONG

PETER

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.

SONG

PETER

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 accusers.

SONG

PONTIUS PILATE

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 crucified.

PETER

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 Him."

SONG

PETER

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.

CENTURION

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 crucifixion.

MARY MAGDALENE

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, why?

PETER

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 on?

MARY MAGDALENE

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.

PILATE

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.

CENTURION

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 God!

PETER

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?

MARY MAGDALENE

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.

PILATE

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.

SONG

MARY MAGDALENE

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.

PETER

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?

MARY MAGDALENE

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 seeking?"

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 all.

SONG

PETER

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

PETER

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.

MARY MAGDALENE

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 J. Gaither

THE END

Copyright 1998 Nancy Hedrick Harper

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