JUST THE FACTS
by Richard Ruddle

 
 
 


Biblical Reference:  Matthew: 27:64-66, 28:1-7, Luke 16, John 20.

Theme:
  Jesus Christ has risen from the grave and those that believe in him and are baptized, shall be saved.

Cast
:  Narrator, 1-Tribune, 1-Centurion, 2 -Solders (Guards), Martha a former slave, Bubbus the gardener, Cookus, the chef.

Setting
:  The scene of the crime in the garden at the home of Joseph of Aramethia.

Props:
The characters in this skit are based on those from television show “Dragnet.” The Tribune (The Roman Tribune in charge of local law enforcement) and Centurion (Chief Investigator) are main roles. The dialogue is delivered in the same matter-of-fact manner as in the Dragnet television show.

NARRATOR:


Music - Dum-Da-Dum-Dum 

“This is the city; Jerusalem. It’s a city filled with tensions, suspicion and hatred. It is a melting pot of diverse peoples and cultures. The largest resident population is Jews. Roman Legions occupy the city and maintain law and order for its residents under the direction of a Roman Governor. It is late afternoon and the Tribune in charge of the local law enforcement group, the Fourth Urban Cohort of the Roman Army, is speaking to his Chief Investigator. They are responding to the scene of a reported Burglary. The Tribune has been directed to personally investigate the Burglary that occurred in the rear garden of a home that is owned by a well-to-do local resident, one Joseph of Aramethia. The Tribune is explaining the nature of the assignment to his Chief Investigator who will assist him with the investigation.”

Tribune and Investigator:
  (Enter from the rear of the sanctuary and walk down the center aisle towards the stage. They both take seats and begin to speak to each other).

Tribune:
(Commander of the 4th. Cohort speaking to Centurion
”Centurion, it has been reported that a person or person(s) unknown made forcible entry into a sealed tomb located in this garden in the rear of this home.  Because the owner of the property is a VIP, we have been ordered to conduct the investigation rather than someone of lesser rank. That’s why I brought you to assist me.”

Centurion: (Chief Investigator):  “I’m glad to help. I needed to get out of the office for a while anyway to go down to the shoe shop. My sandals need to be half-soled (looking at sole of sandal) and the shoe shop is right on the way home. By the way, was anything stolen from the tomb?”

Tribune: “Only the body of a Nazarene we executed. He was buried there a couple of days ago.” 

Centurion
: “Oh, an X-XVI  (grave robbery), eh? That’s not a major crime. What’s makes this so important?”

Tribune: “Nothing, except that the owner of the property is some wealthy merchant from Aramathia and the tomb had been placed under the protection of Rome because the deceased was a local agitator and had a following. Two of our guys were on duty guarding the tomb during the time when the incident took place. It looks like they may have been sleeping on duty.”

Centurion:  “That makes us look real bad, doesn’t it? What did our men have to say about it?”

Tribune: “
Not much.  Seems they aren’t sure what happened. That’s why we’re here at the scene to re-interview them and look for clues.  You can drop off your sandals afterward.”

Centurion: “Fine with me. Do we have anything to go on?”

Tribune: “Not really. The lab boys have already been here and gone. We don’t have a report of their findings yet. We do know one thing for sure though.”

Centurion:
“What’s that?”

Tribune:  “That corpse didn’t just get up and walk away!”

Music: Dum-Da-Dum-Dum

Tribune: “The first person to be questioned is Martha, a recently freed slave, who is in charge of the residence while the owner, Joseph, is away. She is known for her skills at (get this) home improvement and does a weekly how-to class for Women down at the Bazaar.”

Centurion: “Women should really leave those things to us men! (Both nod in agreement) Look, this may be her coming now.”

Tribune and Centurion:  (Are approached by a middle aged female wearing a toga and a tool belt with hammer rule, etc. who hurries over to them.)

Martha: “I’m really glad you officers showed up. My name is Martha. That’s M-A-R-T-H-A!  I’m the one who sent for you. My Master, Joseph, left town yesterday for his family home in Aramathia. He was upset with all of confusion, noise and crowds of people in town for the crucifixion on Friday and wanted a little peace and quiet. He left me in charge of the household as usual. I know he will be furious with me when he finds out what happened. This is the first time we ever had anything like this!”

Tribune: “Why don’t you tell us what happened.”

Centurion: (matter of factly) ”Just the facts Ma’am.”

Martha: “The Master was really upset because he apparently knew the man they executed and wanted the man to have a decent burial. He donated his own burial site for that purpose and convinced the Romans to let him bury the man there. He made sure that the huge stone that covered the entrance was securely sealed in place before he left. Do you know, it took three grown men to roll that stone in place and the master still was worried until the two soldiers arrived to guard the tomb. How could anyone have entered the tomb with those soldiers on guard duty?”

Tribune: “That’s what we’re here to find out Ma’am.”

Centurion: “Was any one else present in the home between the time when the body was buried and the burglary was discovered?”

Martha: “The Gardener, Bubbus, was here all weekend. He starts work early each morning, long before sunrise. He is the one who noticed that the stone had been rolled away and found the guards asleep. He’s just over there inside the greenhouse

(points to other side of garden) You’ll have to be patient with him. He’s from the southern part of the empire and is not too familiar with our ways. The light is on, but there’s nobody home, if you know what I mean. Shall I call him?”

Tribune:
“Yes, please. One more question Ma’am. Do you have any idea who might have done this or why?”

Martha: “I have no idea, but you better catch them soon. I don’t want to end up on house arrest or having to pay for the damages on my salary. It would be bad for my image!”


Music: Dum-Da-Dum Dum

Martha:
(Mumbling to herself as she leaves) “It’s just one thing after another around here.”  (Shouts loudly) “Bubbas, Bubbas, come here. The Tribune wants to talk to you.” (Exits)

Centurion: “
You know, what she said is true. We need to close this one fast. I have box seat tickets to the chariot races this evening and my wife Sylvia will give me “what for” if I’m late.”

Tribune:
“Well, that’s the way it is in the fast paced, danger filled, no appreciation world of a Cop!”


Music: Dum-Da-Dum-Dum

Bubbus
: (Enters wearing a toga and a baseball cap and walks hurriedly over toward the Soldiers.)

Bubbus: (approaches and exclaims excitedly))  “I seen it!  I seen it!  I seen it all!”

Tribune: “You saw what happened?”

Bubbus: “Yeah, I did! I was just standing over there watering the flowers when here they come, all dressed in white and a-floatin down from the sky.” (Looks up and imitates descending motion with hands.)

Centurion: “Can you describe them?”

Bubbus: “It was two young fellers and they looked like angels. They motioned at the guards and both of them soldiers crumpled down like they was pole-axed. I was so scared I couldn’t move.”

Tribune: “What happened then?”

Bubbus: “The one angel floated over and rolled away that big ol’stone all by hisself. Then both of them sat down in front of the tomb just as calm as you please. You ain’t never gonna believe what happened then!”

Centurion: “Go on, but just the facts please.”

Bubbus: “OK, but you won’t believe me. No more than those two sat down I heard a noise from inside the tomb.  I wanted to run, but my feet wouldn’t move. All at once a man wearing shining white robe walks out of the tomb and the angels kneel down in front of him. That’s when I knew I had to get going and tore out for servant’s quarters to tell Martha.”

Tribune: “What happened then?

Bubbus: “I don’t rightly know, I told Martha and she sent for ya’ll. I was so upset I had to go work on the other side of the garden.”

Centurion: “Did anyone else see what happened?”

Bubbus: “I don’t think so, ‘cept maybe Cookus, our chef. She got here a couple of hours before ya”ll. She’s up in the house now. You want me to fetch her?”

Centurion: “Yes, tell her we want to speak to her.”

Bubbus: (Leaves for the kitchen to fetch Cookus.)

Cookus:  (Enters wearing a toga with an apron across the front. As she nears, she hands a piece of paper to the Centurion) I’m Cookus.A messenger just brought this message to the door for you.” (Hands paper to Centurion).

Centurion to Tribune: “Oh Good, it’s the lab report. I’ll read it while you question Cookus.”

Centurion to Cookus: “Oh by the way, Just the facts Maam!” (Walks away a short distance to read report)

Tribune: “What time did you arrive here and did you see anything unusual on the way here?”

Cookus: “When I got here I did notice the tomb had been opened. I have to walk right by it coming to work. There were two soldiers standing in front of the open tomb talking. They looked like the just woke up and seemed really confused. I thought they might have been drinking. You know how soldiers are!” (Tribune looks offended) (Cookus realizes what she just said) Oh, excuse me Sir, I didn’t mean ALL soldiers.”

Tribune: Did you see anything else unusual?

Cookus: “Well, on my way here I passed a woman coming from the direction of the garden. She was crying and looked desperate. She kept saying, "they’ve taken him!" they’ve taken him! She walked right over to me, looked into my eyes and asked, “Do you know where they’ve taken him?” I tell you, I was scared. She walked away and didn’t even wait for an answer. I walked straight here after that.”

Tribune
: “That’s all for now, you may go but don’t leave the premises.” (Cookus nods and leaves) Oh, and tell those two soldiers who were guarding the tomb, the Tribune wants to talk to them, NOW!

Centurion: (Holding paper, walks to side of Tribune and speaks) “The lab guys are puzzled. They can’t find a trace of anyone human inside the tomb or around the entrance. There was a stained burial cloth, but it was of no value. They have no idea how the stone was rolled back. No footprints, tool marks or pry marks. There were no chariot tracks either. This investigation is getting creepy!” I also learned that while they were investigating the scene, two of the dead guy’s followers showed up, a guy named John and another fellow. They looked inside the empty tomb. When they saw nothing but empty linen they left really fast.”

Tribune
: “I think it’s time to talk to the guards!”

Music: Dum-Da-Dum-Dum

Soldiers: (Approach marching in step. They stop and render the cross-chest salute, which the Tribune and Centurion return).

Tribune: You were on guard duty when this incident happened? 

Soldiers: “
Yes Sir!”

Centurion: “What are your names?”

Soldier-1: “My name is Frickus.”

Soldier-2: “My name is Frackus.”

Centurion: “Frickus and Frackus? (Chuckling) Sounds like a Vaudeville act!

Tribune: “All right soldiers, what happened? Just the facts!”

Frickus: “I’m not sure Sir. I haven’t got it straight in my mind yet.”

Frackus: “We were standing guard duty at the tomb as we were ordered  (turns eyes upwards) when all of a sudden this bright light appeared above us.”

Frickus: “It was real bright and Sir, I swear I saw an Angel descending towards us.”

Frackus: “That’s right. We were frightened because we heard the man in the tomb was some kind of a wizard and might cast a spell on us. The Angel waved his hand (mimics gesture) and we both just passed out.”

Frickus: “We just started to wake up when this crazy looking guy wearing a toga and a baseball cap came running towards us shouting, “I seen ‘em! The stone sealing the tomb had been rolled away and the tomb was empty except for some burial wrappings.” We didn’t know what to do.”

Frackus: “I know it sounds crazy, Sir but I think it was some kind of magic.”

Tribune: “You had better have some magic of your own when the Governor hears what happened. You two had better get back to the barracks right now. You’re relieved from duty.” (Soldiers salute and walk away slowly).

Centurion:
“And see the Psychiatrist when you get there!”  

Martha
: (Approaches, carrying a note which she hands to the Tribune) “I didn’t want to bother you, but while you were talking to the others, this message came for you by courier. He asked me to deliver it to you.” (Martha leaves).

Tribune: (Reds note and speaks) “It seems that there are reported sightings of the supposed dead man coming in from a number of sources and his followers are telling everyone that if they will believe in him and be baptized, they too will have eternal life” 

Centurion: “If we didn’t know it was impossible, it would almost seem that this guy had really risen from the dead and was walking around the countryside. What will we put in our report?”

Tribune: “I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to tell Governor Pilate that some agitator we executed and sealed in a tomb with two armed guards outside has suddenly come back to life after three days and is strutting around Jerusalem like he owns the place.”

Centurion: “Me Neither. Lets just say his followers sneaked in during the night, overpowered our guards, overcoming their heroic resistance and stole the body. The guards might be suffering from loss of memory caused by injuries received in the struggle. That way our guys are in the clear and we say nothing about those superstitious rumors of resurrecting the dead.”

Tribune: Sounds good to me. Case closed!

Centurion: “Lets go get a drink, stop by the shoe shop and then report to Pilate.”

Music: Dum-Da-Dum-Dum

Narrator: Conclusion

“A person may hear the facts only and still not know what actually happened. Others, too numerous to count, have had doubts. It is only through a personal relationship with the Lord that the facts of the resurrection of Jesus and our salvation by faith in him can be understood and believed.”

Music: Dum-Da-Dum-Dum

The End

Copyright 2006  Richard Ruddle
ENKE38@aol.com

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