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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jesus Talks to Pilate After the Resurrection?

Posted by jlwile on April 9, 2012

I have a little-used category on this blog called “Christian Drama.” It is there because from time to time, I write dramas that are performed at my church. Back in January of 2011, for example, I wrote a 25-minute drama based (very loosely) on the end of John Newton’s life. It turned out pretty well, and I posted the video here so that others might enjoy it. Since then, I have written a few dramas for church, but I didn’t consider any of them worth posting.

Yesterday, of course, was Easter Sunday, which I consider to be the most important Sunday worship service of the year. I was asked to come up with a short drama for the service, and I agreed – with some hesitation. The problem with writing a drama about Easter is that it’s hard to come up with something new. The account of Jesus’ resurrection is so important to the Christian church that it has been written about, preached about, and depicted in all sorts of different ways. How do you come up with something that is original and at the same time meaningful?

Well…here’s what I did. I decided to present a fictional (but maybe plausible?) presentation of Easter from Pilate’s point of view. Pilate was governor of Judaea at the time, so it fell on him to order Christ’s crucifixion. His wife warned him to “have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him” (Matthew 27:19), but he felt pressured by the crowd to order Christ’s execution. I suspect that as time went on, he regretted that decision. I wondered how he might deal with that regret. I then wondered how Jesus might have helped him.

Below the fold you will find a wholly made-up encounter between Jesus and Pilate shortly after the resurrection. This is not meant to have even the slightest hint of historical accuracy. It is just meant to communicate the gospel’s message of forgiveness. I hope you enjoy it.

(Lights up on Pilate, who is pacing nervously next to a large chair that is meant to look like a throne. He sits, exasperated. A servant enters. He holds a bowl of water and a towel.)

Servant: Many pardons, your grace, but I noticed you have been walking outside for quite some time. Would you like me to wash your feet?

Pilate: (distracted) That would be fine.

(Servant kneels and begins to take off Pilate’s left sandal so that He can wash Pilate’s left foot. Throughout the following dialogue, he washes Pilate’s left foot, and when he is done, he put the sandal back on. He doesn’t look at Pilate as he talks, because a servant wouldn’t do that. He concentrates on washing Pilate’s feet.)

Pilate: (suddenly interested in the servant) Are you one of the servants who lives in the palace?

Servant: No, your grace.

Pilate: (now really focused on him) So you have contact with the common man?

Servant: Yes, your grace.

Pilate: I walked around the city all day today, trying to gauge the mood of the people, but I just couldn’t read them. What would you say the mood of the common man is right now?

Servant: I don’t understand the question, your grace. The…mood?

Pilate: (sighing) You see, four days ago I put a popular man….uh…Jesus of Nazareth…to death. I’m afraid that was a bad decision. I’m worried that some of his followers might be fomenting rebellion among the people. (suddenly very earnest) Do you sense rebellion among the people?

Servant: (acting confused) Forgive me for asking, your grace, but do you really need to be worried about rebellion? You have the might of Rome on your side.

(As he finishes his line, Servant needs to be completely done with the left foot, including putting the sandal back on. Servant gets up and walks behind Pilate so that Pilate can’t see him when he delivers his next line.)

Pilate: (seeing the absurdity of the question) Yes, yes…I supposed that’s not my real problem…..Tell me, do you know of this man named Jesus?

Servant: (now that Pilate cannot see him, Servant gives an amused look to the audience, trying to let them know that he is, in fact, the resurrected Christ. This doesn’t have to be overly obvious. The audience will have more opportunity to learn this). Yes…I know him very well.

Pilate: So you are familiar with his teachings.

Servant: (another knowing look) Oh yes…I know his teachings very well.

(Servant now moves to the other side of Pilate, kneels down, and starts taking off Pilate’s right sandal so that he can wash Pilate’s right foot. Once again, he doesn’t look at Pilate until he is instructed to do so. He needs to complete the task, including putting the sandal back on, before he is instructed to look at Pilate.)

Pilate: Are they popular among the people?

Servant: They are popular among some, but unpopular among others.

Pilate: (not satisfied with the answer) What about you? Do you find his teachings to be…good?

Servant: Oh yes. I find them to be good and true.

Pilate: So at least according to you, what I did was wrong?

Servant: Your grace, it doesn’t matter what has happened. There is nothing that can be done about that. What matters is what happens from here. You see, Jesus’ teachings were mostly about forgiveness. God will forgive you for what you have done, if you honestly ask. You need to ask for and accept that forgiveness, forget the past, and honestly try to follow the teachings of Jesus from now on.

Pilate: (impatient – thinking Servant doesn’t understand the gravity of what he has done) Yes, yes…that might be true for someone like you, but it doesn’t apply to me. I am the one who ordered his execution. I don’t think there is any forgiveness for me in that.

Servant: (looking at Pilate for the first time and being very matter-of-fact) But your grace, Jesus taught that you can be forgiven for anything.

Pilate: Anything?

Servant: Oh yes, anything.

Pilate: Even ordering his death?

Servant: Most certainly. I have it on good authority that while Jesus was dying on the cross, He looked up to His father in heaven and asked for forgiveness for the very men who were crucifying him.

Pilate: Wait a minute…you mean to tell me that while he was suffering on the cross, he asked God to forgive those who were causing his agony?

Servant: (Standing, still looking at Pilate) Yes, your grace. If Jesus expected God to forgive those men, surely you can expect God to forgive you.

(Pilate is at a loss for words. He looks away, not knowing what to think. There is an uncomfortable pause.)

Servant: May I have your leave, your grace?

Pilate: (distracted) Yes, yes. (waves Servant away)

(Servant starts to leave, but before he can get off stage, Pilate stops him with the following line:)

Pilate: Wait a minute. I don’t recognize you. What’s your name?

Servant: Who do you say that I am?

(blackout)

If you have a drama ministry in your church and like what you read, feel free to use this script. It is not copyrighted material. The same goes for any other drama I post under this topic heading. If I post a video, feel free to ask for a script, and I will be glad to send it to you.

Comments

9 Responses to “Jesus Talks to Pilate After the Resurrection?”
  1. Jason Pratt says:

    A fine short drama, Dr. Wiley!

    After several years, I managed Easter Sunday to pick up a copy of Paul Maier’s classic work of researched historical fiction Pontius Pilate (an original hardback copy), and while thumbing through the notes I was interested to see that some ancient church fathers regarded Pilate as having “the spirit of Christ”; and that his wife Procula (possibly Claudia Procula) has long been regarded as an official Saint (with a feast surviving until today; and even more interesting that the ancient Ethiopian church actually regards Pontius himself as an official Saint along with his wife!

    At any rate, by all means let us hope in Christ for Pontius Pilate. (And for Caiaphas, for that matter.)

    JRP

  2. jlwile says:

    Thanks, Jason. I think part of the idea that Pilate and/or his wife became Christians comes from a piece called Acts of Pilate, which is supposed to be an account of Christ’s trial and Pilate’s subsequent conversion. Most modern historians think it is a work of fiction, but I guess a lot of early Christians took it rather seriously.

  3. Jason Pratt says:

    The same text found its way (along with two others) into The Gospel of Nicodemus, which hung on the edges of the not-quite-canonical-but-still-worth-reading list for a long time. Texts like that are not only interesting in themselves, but are also good evidence that Christian authorities (at least) could distinguish in principle between “genuinely historical” and “helpful and pious but fictional”.

    (Incidentally we enjoy your blog on its usual topics, too, over at the Christian Cadre. {g})

    JRP

  4. gracekalman says:

    Have you ever read Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morison? It gives a very interesting account of Jesus’ trial. I never realized how very illegal the proceedings were. The Robe, by Lloyd C. Douglas, is also an excellent book.

  5. Sean says:

    Very well done, thanks for posting.

  6. jlwile says:

    Grace, I have not read either of those books. The first one sounds quite interesting.

  7. jlwile says:

    Thanks, Sean!

  8. Danielle says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Dr. Wile. It’s quite beautiful. I especially like the last line.

  9. jlwile says:

    Thanks, Danielle!

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