With Arms Wide Open

Written by:  Peggy Barnell, Linda Coburn, Rich Gerber, Cindy Studebaker


The story of Jesus and the early church as seen through the eyes of the apostle Luke.


Scene 1
(Lights up on the disciples as they  are obviously planning, and occasionally disagreeing on an important topic.  After a brief period, enter Luke, stage front, in spotlight)

Luke:   Hello.  I see you’re watching these men.  I suppose they look a bit familiar to you.  Yes, that’s correct - they are the disciples of Jesus Christ.  11 of them now, since Judas’ betrayal and suicide.

You may think you know these men. I agree - they look the same.  They are the ones who sat at the table with Jesus, and listened to his teachings.  But I’ve got news for you.  They aren’t the same.  The disciples you learned about from the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are different now.  On the surface they may seem the same.  And yes, it’s true that Peter is still bold and out-spoken.  Thomas is still calculating.   Nathaniel and Phillip are still intellectuals . But look closer now - and listen a while.  The differences can be perceived without much effort.

These men have sat at the feet of the resurrected Son of God.  They have lived the last 3 years with Him - but now they have witnessed not only His death on the cross, but His life after death.  Doubting Thomas no longer doubts.  They have all experienced the risen Jesus Christ.  They sat with Him, ate with Him, they learned from Him after He rose form the dead.  And then they watched Him ascend into the heavens.  They all heard His final instructions in The Great Commission.

It has changed who they are.  That’s why it’s different men that you see here.   And I must mention... God wants to do the same kind of thing with each of you.

(Black out on disciples.  Luke continues in spot light)

Luke:   Forgive me, I need to introduce myself.  I am Luke.  Though I was not one of those who lived and learned from Jesus in person,  I have thoroughly investigated first-hand accounts from those who did.  I have researched the Scriptures and the life of Jesus in great depth.  And to explain my views well, I need to move backwards in time a bit.

I have found that most people are somewhat intimidated by the Scriptures, the bible as you call it today.  Most have misconceptions about just what it is the bible has to say, in particular The Old Testament.  The books of the law, of God’s judgment, the countless prophecies...oh, it’s all there.  But if I had to sum up the message of The Old Testament in one sentence I could do it in this way:    Jesus is coming!

All the prophesy recorded in The Old Testament was fulfilled with the birth of Jesus Christ.  Many of you are familiar with the story of the birth of the Christ Child: the Bethlehem Star,  the three wise men who came to worship,  the angels appearing to the shepherds in the field.  But the multitudes didn’t begin to recognize who Jesus was until He began His time of ministry.  He lived His early life in an obscure little town called Nazareth.  He worked along side His earthly father, Joseph, in a carpentry shop, learning a carpenter’s trade.

When it was the appropriate time, He began His ministry.  I want you to know He didn’t set up a tent and charge admission.  He didn’t try to take over the leadership in the elaborate Jewish temples.  He simply began the work of His Father; teaching about God in tiny little hamlets to simple people- people like you and I.

Just like today, when people encountered Jesus, some didn’t believe, some weren’t sure, some were afraid.  But others- they knew.  They saw the miracles and they believed:  the blind could see, the lame could walk, even a few people who had been dead - returned to life at His command.

Scene II: (mourners/crowds at the grave site of Lazarus. Jesus enters with a small crowd)

Jesus:  (as they reach the grave) Take away the stone.

Martha:  But, Lord, he’s been in the grave 4 days. There will surely be a bad odor.

Jesus:  Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? (the stone is rolled back, then Jesus prays.)
Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  Of course you always hear me, but I say it for the benefit of those here, so they will believe that you sent me. Lazarus-come out!

(Lazarus appears, wrapped in burial cloth.)
Jesus:  Take off his burial clothes and let him go!

Song:   Waymaker

Scene III

Luke:  Jesus moved people.  Many times He spoke in parables...  Oh, parables are stories with a moral or a specific meaning to them.  And people knew when they heard Jesus’ parables that He was talking about them, about their lives.  Wherever He went, people followed just to hear Him teach, to look into His face, to touch His garments.

But the Pharisees and the Saducees...  oh,  I’m sorry. They were the religious leaders in biblical days.  These men had become so wrapped up in the religious laws that they had begun to see themselves as ‘little gods’.  It’s amazing to me that so many of the Pharisees and Saducees were eye-witnesses to some of the miracles of Jesus, but still they didn’t believe that He was the Messiah.  The only thing they felt was threatened by the popularity of Jesus, and the big reactions of the crowds when He was around.

Some things don’t change with time.  You probably know a few ‘religious people’ today, right?  Let me tell you something, God has always wanted a relationship with us; He longs for His children to draw close to Him.  God isn’t interested in people becoming religious just to follow rules and regulations and look down on everyone who doesn’t fit into their religious mold.  Jesus had no patience for that kind of religion - and the Pharisees and Saducees ... well they had no clue.

Scene IV

(crowd scene, Jesus is teaching)

Jesus:  Not everyone who says to me “Lord,  Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?”  Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers.”

What do you think about this?  There was a man who had two sons.  He went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” “I will not” he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the farmer went to the other son and said the same thing.  He answered “I will, Sir”, but he did not go.  Which of the two did what his father wanted?

Person 1:  The first.

Jesus:  (to the Pharisees) I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.  For John the Baptist came to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and prostitutes did.  And even now, after all this, you do not repent and believe.

Listen to a parable:  There was a landowner who planted a vineyard.  He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower.  Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey.  When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants seized his servants, they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third.  Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way.  Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son’ he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other,  ‘This is the heir.  Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’  So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
So when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?

Person 2:  He will bring those wretches to a wretched end.

Person 3:    And he will rent the vineyard to other tenants who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.

Jesus:  Have you read in the Scriptures:  The stone that the builders rejected has become the honored cornerstone?   How remarkable. What an amazing thing the Lord has done. What I mean is this:  the Kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, (the Pharisees)  and given to a nation that will give God His share of the crop.  All who stumble on this rock of truth shall be broken, but those it falls on will be scattered as dust.

(To be continued)

© Peggy Barnell, Linda Coburn, Rich Gerber, Cindy Studebaker, all rights reserved.

THIS IS NOT THE FULL SCRIPT. A royalty payment is required for the script, and this can be discussed with the author, who may be contacted at www.peggybarnell.com