For Lent this year, my congregation will continue reading Scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary, and our team of speakers will continue to take turns on Sunday mornings as we do year round.
But for one Sunday in place of a sermon, we’ll have four readers give voice to Lent as a scribe, a woman in the crowd, Pontius Pilate, and Simon Peter. In these Lenten reflections, each character looks back on the choices they made concerning Jesus. Taken together, these dramatic readings highlight themes of choice, regret, and starting over.
We’ll use these later in Lent, likely the week before Palm Sunday. Below is a sample monologue, and if you’d like a copy of all four, just scroll to the end for a link.
How Was I to Know?
As procurator of Judea, of course I had heard of Jesus long before I met him. The stories that surrounded the man! Miraculous healings, astonishing teaching, the way he answered the Jewish religious leaders with cleverness equal to their own and with an even greater air of authority—why Jesus’ name seemed to be on everyone’s lips!
Finally the chief priests, elders, and scribes could stand it no longer. They arrested Jesus and sent him to me. I knew they must be jealous of Jesus’ popularity with the people and afraid for the preservation of their own religion. But they could hardly tell that to me. No, they only said that Jesus claimed to be a king. They said he was misleading the people and telling them to withhold tribute from Caesar.
I have to admit that when Jesus finally stood before me, I was actually a little disappointed. He was a rather ordinary looking man. He performed no miracles as he stood before me in the praetorium. He made no spectacular claims for himself. In fact, he barely replied to my questions.
“Have you no answers to the accusations of the chief priests?” I asked him. “Don’t you understand how serious and how many the charges are against you?”
But Jesus remained silent and almost motionless before me. Was he tired from the long sessions with the Jewish council the night before? Was he being politically shrewd in keeping his thoughts to himself? Was he afraid for his own safety?
I thought not. His hands were steady, his gaze sure. He held his head level and his shoulders square as if he were the commander and his accusers the legion under his authority. He would not answer them.
Well, you can see how I was caught fast in a web of events I could not control. I was not convinced by the charges of the Jewish leaders, but Jesus would not answer them. I did not want a riot among the people, but I could not afford to release a prisoner who set himself up as a king. I did not want to be manipulated by the Jewish leaders, but I needed their support to retain my position. And so I chose the only way out of the web—I let the people decide the fate of their prophet.
How was I to know that they would turn away from him? Was it my fault that they proved fickle in the end? Could I have predicted their calls for his death?
No one could have known. It was an impossible situation. To release Jesus then would have only caused a riot and weakened my own position. I had no choice but to order his execution. I had no choice, you see. I had no choice.
Use this link for your free copy of all four dramatic monologues: Lenten Reflections.
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