The Apprentice
by Richard Ruddle

 
 
 
 


Luke 10: 9-10, 1 Corinthians 1-8, Matthew 7:1-3

Characters:

Narrator

Master Carpenter

Carpenterís Wife

Apprentice

Roman Officer

 

Narrator:  (Enters)

Our drama is the tale of an ambitious young man from Greece who descended from a long line of stonemasons who proudly carved statues, columns and works of art for the Greeks. The young man admired the beauty of the stone carving but did not share the craftsmanís love of the cold stone. Instead, he loved the warmth, strength, rich colors and beautiful intricate designs created in ebony, cedar and other woods, by master carpenters. Unable to find that level of craftsmanship in his home country, he traveled to the Middle East to search for a Mentor. His unsuccessful travels took him to Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt. While in Egypt, he heard about a Master Carpenter/Wood Carver, living in Israel who was seeking an apprentice. The Carpenter was reputed to be a just and honest man, but one who was very particular and demanding about his work. Sensing this might be the opportunity he was searching for, he immediately set out for Israel. In the local market places the name of the Master Carpenter, was well known. It didnít take long to find him and seek to become his apprentice. (Exits)

Master Carpenter & Apprentice: (Enter walking together, discussing the apprenticeí qualifications and the needs of the Master Carpenter.)

Master Carpenter: (To apprentice) I want to stress to you that quality and pride in my work is the most important consideration. Whatever comes from my shop must be the finest quality possible. Its beauty and strength must have no equal. I will accept no excuses for poor designs or craftsmanship. Is that understood?  

Apprentice: I understand and agree completely Sir. That is why I sought you out. I want to learn from the best, so that I too may be a Master Carpenter some day. (Thoughtfully) I want to create beautiful objects and carvings that will live on after me. My family has always worked with stone, but I prefer wood. It may sound strange, but I have always felt it was my destiny to work with wood.

Master Carpenter: I imagine that caused a few problems at home.

Apprentice: It surely did. When I told my Father and Brothers what I wanted to do they nearly disowned me. I did leave with their blessings however, when they saw that I was really serious about it. I have much to learn, but I promise you every thing I create will be the absolute finest, no matter what the task.

Master Carpenter: Iíll take you at your word. (Shakes Hands) To begin with, I want you to do an inventory of the shop. You are to learn the names of every type of wood we have, the weaknesses and strengths of each and their most common uses. Then clean up the shop.  

Apprentice: (Overwhelmed) Yes sir. You wonít be sorry you hired me. (Begins to pick up wood).  

Master Carpenter: I hope not. Remember, in a few years you may be good enough to actually start creating things. But for now, you know nothing!  

Apprentice: I understand Sir.  

Master Carpenter:  Since you are new to this area and have made no other arrangements, you may sleep in the storeroom behind the shop. By the way, what is your name?  

Apprentice: I am called Nicholas, Sir, and thank you! I have a little money for food but I must be careful about spending it. It has to last for a while.  

Master Carpenter: I like that. In this business, we canít have people who waste money or resources. Come along with me and I will introduce you to my family. You will be our guest for the evening meal. We believe that when someone is hungry, we give him food. If he is thirsty we give him drink. In doing so we find favor with our God. 

Apprentice:  Just one God? We have plenty of gods in Greece. Tell me about yours when you have time. (Pause) I have much to learn from you and your family Sir.  

Master Carpenter: Learn this then; we open the shop at sunrise, so be ready to wake up early and work hard.  

Apprentice: Yes Sir. You can count on me.  

Master: Come along now. We donít want to be late. My wife will be vexed with me if the meal gets cold.  

Master and Apprentice: (Both Exit)  

 

Narrator: (Enters) It is now several months later and the young apprentice has done very well in his carpenter training. His honesty and effort have endeared him to the Master Carpenter and his family. He has been told that if he continues to do well he might advance his training and begin more difficult projects. He is very excited by this opportunity to prove his self. He often thinks about the pledge of quality workmanship he made when he was hired. No matter what the assignment, his intent is to excel. Nicholas has also eagerly sought to learn about this religion with only one God. It is now mid-day and the Master and apprentice have stopped their labors for the noon meal. The Masterís wife has come to the shop with some freshly baked bread to surprise them. They look up as she enters. (Narrator Exits)  

Wife: (Enters) There you are. I have brought you a surprise.  

Master: A good one, I hope. Something must be afoot, because I have seen increasing numbers of Roman Soldiers near the market area.  

Wife: (Places bread on table) I noticed that too. I saw several on the way here this morning. They must be anticipating some trouble.  

Apprentice: (Picks up a piece of bread and speaks while eating.) I overheard a couple of men talking after we closed yesterday. They said that some local political agitator was causing trouble and stirring up the rabble. I didnít hear a name, but whoever he is, he had better watch his step. Those soldiers are not someone I would like to deal with.  

Master: Donít judge them too harshly. We should not judge, lest we be judged ourselves. (Looks at Wife) Still, I agree that a little caution is warranted. (Speaks to apprentice) Better plan to be off the streets tonight in case something is brewing.  



 

Wife: Iíll make sure our household is aware of the situation when I return home. Maybe you had better close early this evening. After all, it is Passover.  

Master This is our busy time of the year and some customers stay late in the market looking for bargains. Iím afraid that we might be here for a while beyond our regular closing time. I will try to be home before sundown.  

Apprentice: Donít worry I will stay with him until we close. If need be I can close up so that he can get home to be with his family.  

Wife: Good. I feel better when heís not by himself. Try not to be too late (Exits).  

Master: I have one more job I would like to finish this evening. I need a small length of gopher wood, but we have used the last of our stock.  

Apprentice: I know where I can get some, Sir! There is another shop just down the way and one street over that sells scrap wood. While I was walking the other night I saw several odd scraps of gopher wood there. Iím sure he will sell some at a reasonable price.  

Master: (Happily) What an apprentice! Please go and fetch it for me. Here are a few shekels to cover the cost (Reaches inside his purse and hands coins to apprentice).  

Apprentice: Iíll run like the wind and return directly (Exits quickly).  

Master: Iím truly glad I hired that boy. He is a fine apprentice. (Busies himself gathering materials and straightening up the shop. A very short time later the breathless apprentice returns running).  

Apprentice: (Catching Breath) I got the wood. On my way back I reached the end of the street near that dark corner and saw a group of Roman Soldiers gathered in the shadows. They were talking to a man I think Iíve seen around your house. They were whispering low and one of the Romans counted out several pieces of silver and gave it to the man. Then they all hurried off together with the man leading the way. I think they are looking to arrest someone. I didnít want to be on the street and have them arrest me, so I ran back here.  

Master:  Good thinking. I wonder what that was all about? (Shrugs) In any event, I have work to finish. I want you to help me. (Master and apprentice begin to assemble tools and materials to begin work).  

Wife: (Enters excitedly) Joseph, youíve got to come home quickly! Something terrible has happened!  

Master: Whatís wrong? Are you all right?  

Wife: Iím fine, but our Son, Jesus, and several of his friends have been arrested!  

Master: Arrested? For what reason?  

Wife: They said he was a criminal and that he and his friends were plotting against the Government.  

Master: Criminal? My Son? How could this happen? Werenít you all supposed to stay at home? Wasnít He at home?  

Wife: (Holding back tears) He was going out for just a little while to observe Passover with a few of his disciples and I wasnít to worry. Apparently they finished supper and walked together to a nearby garden. It was there that the Romans confronted and arrested most of them. Supposedly, there was some bloodshed and one soldier was injured.  

Master: (To Apprentice) I must go now. I donít have time to close up. Will you remain here and see to the shop?  

Apprentice: I will, Sir. Please go and tend to your family. (Escorts Master and Wife to door and all exit).  

Narrator: (Enters): Two days have passed and the apprentice has faithfully opened and tended the carpenter shop each day. There has been no word from the Master Carpenter or his family. Rumors overheard on the street say that the carpenterís Son was taken before the local authorities and then to the Roman Governor. There was some confusion about jurisdiction or other legal issues and the prisoner was returned to the local officials for judgment. The third day dawned and once again the Apprentice opened the shop. There were few people shopping in the market. It seemed that all were afraid that they might be the next to be arrested. Noontime comes and goes. It is now late afternoon as we join the apprentice in the shop (Exits).  

Apprentice: (Aside) It has been a long time and no word from anyone. I only saw him a few times, but their Son Jesus seemed not to be a radical or threat to anyone. I thought he must be a teacher. Rabbi! Thatís what his friends all called Him. (Shakes head wondering).  

Roman Soldier: (Enters) Are you the carpenter?  

Apprentice: I am his apprentice Sir. He is away handling a family emergency and left me in charge.  

Roman Soldier: Well Apprentice, I have a commission for you. The Governor has sentenced a criminal to die by crucifixion. With all of the executions lately, there is a shortage of crosses. You will construct the cross upon which this criminal will be crucified. You will make sure that it is of the proper dimensions. (Hands Paper to Apprentice). It must be strong to hold the weight on the cross member and have a footrest to accommodate nails in the feet. We will want to use it again for other executions, so make sure the finish is hard so not much blood will soak in. It goes without saying that if we are not satisfied, you will likely be hung on one just like it. (Glares at apprentice) Do you understand? (Apprentice nods ďYesĒ while remaining silent).

Apprentice: The person to be crucified; is He the one that they arrested in the garden for treason?

Roman Soldier Thatís Him. Now get busy. When you are finished, you will bring the cross to the prison. Oh, another thing, there will be no payment for your work. It seems all of the money that was allotted for this crucifixion was spent as a bribe for the informant who betrayed the criminal. We will accept your work as a donation to the government. (Glaring) You donít mind do you?

Apprentice: No Sir.

Roman Soldier: I thought not. (Exits)

Apprentice: (Aside) What can I do? I canít betray the man who has taught me so much and accepted me into his family. How can I produce the means whereby his Son will be crucified? How could I live with myself? (Thinking) But if I donít, they will probably kill me too. Why did I ever come to this country? I should have stayed in Greece and carved marble. (Head in hands) What will I do? What will I do? (Paces back and forth) If I do this, I can never face anyone again. What would the Master Carpenter have me do? What would his Son, Jesus, have me do? (Thinking) I promised that I would faithfully complete any job, any task that I was given, no matter how difficult. Can I dishonor the Master Carpenter and myself by breaking my word? If I donít do it someone else will, probably someone who would build with hate and loathing. Iíd rather it be a family friend. Is this the task that has been driving me all these years? Is this my destiny? Where can I find an answer?  (Thinking) Didnít I hear the Masterís wife saying that in troubled times they go to their God in prayer? (Thinking) Yes, she did. I remember! She said that if we ask God it will be given to us, to seek him and if we knock, it will be opened to us. If their God will accept me, I will become one with them. (Pause) I will pray to their God and await His answer (Exits).

Narrator: (Enters): So, the apprentice fervently sought guidance and solace in prayer, and the answer was given to him. (Pause for emphasis) He kept his word to the Master Carpenter and constructed a cross, one that was strong and ruggedly beautiful in its simplicity: a loving work in wood that would be held sacred and remembered for thousands of years by followers of Jesus Christ. (Pause) The Apprentice? It is believed  that he became a follower of Christ. Some say that he traveled with the apostle Paul to establish a church in the Greek city of Corinth. There, Paul taught that it is not enough to say that we are Christians. We must also act like Christians. Not to do so is to bring dishonor on the name of Christ. We must remember that only in Christ, are we made pure, holy and acceptable to God (Exits).

Copyright 2009 Richard Ruddle
ENKE38@aol.com

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