Summary: The story of Jesus and the early church as seen through the eyes of the apostle Luke.
Style:  Dramatic.    Duration: 45min
Actors:  8M, 1F, 6M/F, 1VO

Lazarus (non-speaking)
Bystanders (3)
Angels (3)
God (voice only)


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.

Scene V

Luke:   You think Jesus didn’t stir people up?  His words were God’s truth, and many recognized it.  Those who did realize who He was, the Deliverer, the Anointed One sent from God above... well, they loved Him with everything they had - with their whole lives.

Song:   Alabaster Box.
(song is sung by soloist in spotlight, while a woman portrays the song through creative dance/movement. Crowds from previous scene are present. The song ends with the dancer/woman at the feet of Jesus)

Luke:  It was so difficult for some to believe that Jesus could love sinful people.  But, ah...  the beauty of a soul that is wholly devoted to her Lord... Those who have been forgiven of much are always the most grateful.  The people who recognized Jesus for who He really was, they lived with a joy that was... well it was beyond earthly description.

But then- trouble came.  The Pharisee and Saducees began spreading lies about Jesus.  You know what happened next:  the last supper, the betrayal by Judas, Jesus praying in the garden while His disciples fought to stay awake, Jesus handed over to the Roman authorities and brought before the governor, Pilate...

Scene VI
(Jesus before Pilate and the angry crowds)

Pilate:  So are you the king of the Jews?

Jesus:  Yes.

(the Pharisees hurl insults and accusations at Jesus.  He remains silent.)

Pilate:  Don’t you hear what they are saying?  (Jesus is silent.) All right.  You are all aware of the customs of our government.  Each year I have the authority to release one Jewish prisoner to you during this week, the time  of your Passover Feast.  You all know the murderer, Barabbas.  Which shall I release to you - Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Christ? (the Pharisees and Saducees entice the crowd)

Woman messenger:  (enters with an urgent message for Pilate) I have a message here from your wife:   Don’t have anything to do with this innocent man.  I had a terrible nightmare concerning Him last night. (Pilate is obviously upset by the message)

Pilate:  Which of these two men shall I release to you?

Crowds:  Barabbas!

Pilate:  What shall I do then, with Jesus who is called the Christ?

Crowds:  Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!

Pilate:  (as he washes his hands in front of the crowd)  I am innocent of this man’s blood! It is all your responsibility!

Crowds:  Let His blood be on us and on our children!

(Pilate exits. Jesus is mocked and spat upon. The crowds strip Him of His garment and place a purple robe on His back and a staff in His right hand. The crown of thorns is put on His head as some kneel down before Him, mocking. others strike Him)

Person 3:  Hail, Hail, King of the Jews!
(lights dim to black as crowds continue )

Scene VII

Luke:  The darkest day in history.  God sent His only Son to walk on this earth for the sole purpose of telling us of the Father’s love.  And the result?  The Son of God is beaten, spat upon, stripped and hung on a cross to die the death of a condemned criminal.  I wonder if anyone that day remembered the parable Jesus had told them about the man who owned the vineyard?

While Jesus hung on the cross, most of His followers fled.  The majority of those who watched that day were there for entertainment.  There were a faithful few who stayed.  There love and devotion was so great, they stayed close to Him despite the fear they had for their own lives.

Song:   At The Foot Of The Cross.
(crucifixion crowds are present for the song)

Luke:  The blood of Jesus Christ - that was the key, though it wasn’t until later that they began to understand it.  It was the thing I struggled with myself initially, but it’s really so very simple.  Jesus lived a life without sin.  He was completely God, and yet completely man.  Because all humans are sinful by nature, they are not able to have a relationship with the perfect God who created them.

Oh, now I know many of you today don’t believe that humans are born sinful.  You think that people are really good at heart. (Luke picks up a blood-stained garmet from the site where Jesus was flogged and ponders it a moment)  I disagree. Jesus gave His life as an offering, as a sin sacrifice for people - the very kind of people who would nail Him to a cross.  He willingly took upon Himself the sins of mankind, so that mankind could have a bridge to our perfect Creator; God the Father.

Of course, right after the crucifixion, the early believers didn’t understand that.  For three days they were in a state of shock, of total bewilderment.  They had been so certain that Jesus was going to be their earthly king forever-  and then He was dead. Even though He had told them what was to come.  He told them He was to be arrested and killed...  The followers couldn’t comprehend it.  They were confused and afraid, in hiding, in mourning, in despair.

Ah...  But here’s where it gets really good.

Scene VIII
(the empty tomb.  Mary and two others come to anoint the body of Jesus and encounter  angels instead.  The women enter, still grieving, to find the stone rolled away)

Angel 1:  Why are you looking in the tomb for someone who is alive?  He isn’t here!  He has come back to life again!

Angel 2:  Don’t you remember what He told you back in Galilee - that the Messiah must be betrayed into the hands of evil men and be crucified and that He would rise again the third day?
(the ladies whoop it up as they realize what they’ve been told and run to tell the others)

Luke:  Mary and her friends found the tomb empty.  Jesus was no longer dead.  He appeared to His disciples first...
(disciples in the upper room)

James:  I tell you, Thomas, it’s true.  I saw Him.  We all did!

Thomas:  No way.  I have to see for myself.  When I touch those nail holes, and feel the place the spear went in His side, then I’ll believe it.

Disciples:  Oh, man...    /   Thomas, that’s disgusting!   /    You’re sick, brother.

Jesus:  (has entered and stands behind Thomas)   Thomas!

Thomas:  (slowly turns, then falls to His knees before Jesus)  My Lord!   My God!
(black out on Jesus and the disciples)

Luke:  Jesus also appeared to many of the other believers.  He spent 40 days with them; teaching about the kingdom of God, ministering to them.  His final instructions before being taken up into the heavens were this:  Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

The disciples watched as Jesus ascended into the clouds.  The Scriptures say they stood staring after Him.  I’m sure they couldn’t believe their eyes.  Jesus was gone - again.  They had lost Him once, at the crucifixion.   But this time, they comforted each other with the knowledge that it was not forever.

Song:  Good-bye For Now

Luke:  It was a bittersweet time.  But it was an exciting time!  Jesus had given the believers their marching orders.  He had promised them the coming of the Holy Spirit to live inside them and empower them, guide, and comfort them.  The apostles sparked a movement, and The Holy Spirit lit a fire.  Multitudes became followers of the one who had conquered death.

(The gate called Beautiful. Peter and John enter on their way to the temple)

Beggar:  Please, help me.  Do you have any money to spare?

Peter:  (Peter and John stop to focus on the beggar)  Look at us! Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.
(Peter takes the man by his right hand and helps him stand.  The beggar jumps and rejoices and praises God. They continue on their way - the beggar joins them and they continue celebrating)

Luke:  The Pharisees and the Roman government thought they had done away with Jesus and His followers by nailing Him to a cross, but it was just the beginning.  And as the numbers of those who followed Jesus exploded, so did the persecution of  the believers.  They were jailed and beaten.  Many were stoned to death.  Those who had their lives spared were threatened in no uncertain terms to stop talking and preaching about Jesus.  The persecution caused many of the believers to be scattered to other regions.  Again, what was intended to squelch the early Christian church actually expanded it.  Instead of just in Jerusalem, people in surrounding Judea and Samaria heard the good news of Jesus Christ.  And of course, you know it continued to was how the Christian Church came to be.

One of the greatest persecutors of the early Christian church was a devout Jewish man named Saul.  He was a wild-man with a mission - bent on stopping the spread of the Christian faith.  He searched from village to village, finding men and women believed to be followers of Jesus and dragging them to prison.  Saul was so aggressive, he sought permission from the government to travel to Damascus to search out and destroy Christians.  Damascus was a town 150 miles from Jerusalem.  It was when Saul was en route to Damascus that... well, you might say God gave Saul an attitude adjustment.

The Bible says that while Saul was traveling down the road, a brilliant light shone like a spotlight directly on him.  Then a voice from heaven came out of nowhere - actually it came out of everywhere.  Talk about special effects!

Scene  X
(Saul and two comrades on the Damascus road.)

Voice of God:  Saul, Saul - why are you persecuting me?

Saul:  (on his knees and trembling in fear)  Who are you, Lord?

Voice of God:  I am Jesus- the one you are persecuting. Now get up.  Go into the city and wait for further instructions.
(Saul stumbles to his feet-realizing he is blind.  He is assisted by his friends)

Luke:  Saul had to be led into the city.  The experience had left him completely blind.  He was wise enough to do as he was told.  He waited in a small room in the city of Damascus.  For three days he waited - eating and drinking nothing.   It was there he began to see himself for what he really was - he later described himself as “The worst of sinners”.   Alone for three days with his sins on his consience, he asked to be cleansed.  When a Christian messenger named Ananias came to Saul, he laid his hands on Saul’s eyes.

Ananias:  Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here - He has sent me that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke:  Saul the legalist Jew was buried, and Paul the liberator was born.  He was a changed man - changed by Jesus Christ.  Paul became the greatest of the apostles.  What a story he had to tell - and he wasted no time in proclaiming to all that he met that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God; the one who changed his heart and his direction in life.

During the course of his life,  Paul had opportunity to speak before Jewish leaders and  before Gentiles.  He visited Rome and Greece, he appeared before kings and government officials, all for the purpose of telling them about Jesus.  In the course of his travels, he was ship-wrecked, stoned by a mob, imprisoned, beaten nearly to death on three occasions -  for the cause of Jesus.  He that had been one of the greatest persecutors of the Christian church became the persecuted.  Yet Paul had no regrets.

Paul  :  We are hard-pressed  on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; stuck down, but not destroyed.   Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(Paul takes a few steps and pauses, as if in deep thought, then continues)

But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.

Luke:  The persecution of the church continued, and the growth of the church continued right along with it.  Most of you knew a bit about the apostle Paul.  But I must tell you - there were thousands and thousands of Christian brothers and sisters who went to their death for the cause of Christ.  Countless names and faces unknown to us,  but each one known and so very precious to God.  So many faced death bravely, knowing that heaven awaited them...

Scene XI
(a prison scene.  3 men in shackles. one of the prisoners is writing a letter)

Nathan:   To my dearest wife, Abigail. I don’t know if this letter will reach you.  I am once again in prison - this time in Samaria.  My comrades Josiah and Philip are with me.  Two days ago we were beaten, and Josiah is badly hurt.  But our Lord Jesus has been faithful  through it all.  We had opportunity last night to talk to two of the guards and tell them about Jesus - and they listened.  They had never heard the good news of salvation and freedom through our Lord.  One of the guards had many questions, and in fact I believe he trusted Jesus to save his soul.

I must tell you there is an angry group of people here who seem intent on our death.  The government authorities seem to agree with these people, and the rumors we hear say we are to be hanged tomorrow morning.  You know my life has been threatened in the past, as has yours, Abigail.  But something tells me that the end is indeed near.  I feel in my soul that I will soon see Jesus Christ face to face.  I pray I am able to meet my death without showing fear.  In a way I look forward to it - to see Him and be with Him.

I worry for you; for your safety and that of the children.  I wish I could be there with you now to protect you.  But I think back to our life before we heard about Jesus, and I know if we had to do it over - nothing would be different.  I am not sorry, but am in fact, so grateful to know our Lord.

If this letter reaches you, please - keep the faith.  Do not waver.  There will be sweet reunion for us all on the other side.
Your loving husband, Nathan

Song:   Another Soldier’s Coming Home
(as song closes, the sound of a mob can be heard and the Christians stand to meet their fate and the lights dim to black)

Luke:   It’s a natural thing to fear death I suppose...  most people do - even Christians.  But if believers only knew what it was that awaited them on the other side... One of your modern day evangelists gives perhaps the best illustration I’ve heard.  Billy Graham says that trying to describe God to someone who doesn’t know Him, is like trying to describe the ocean to someone who’s only glimpse of water has been that of a mud puddle.

Heaven is like that, too.  If the only body of water a person has ever seen is a brown little stagnate circle on the ground,  what kind of words do you suppose I could use to describe the roar of the ocean’s tide?  What could I say to make them comprehend what it feels like to have the salty ocean mist blanket their face, and feel the sand shift back and forth under their feet?  Or when the sun shimmers on the sparkling blue of the water, and nothing but that sparkling blue can be seen for miles and miles?  It can’t be described.  It must be experienced before it can be understood.

The bible says, “Eye has not seen and no mind conceived what God has in store for those love Him”.  There is no need for the light of the sun or the moon in Heaven because the glory of God himself illuminates it day and night.  The most exquisite scene your mind can conjure up can’t begin to do the beauty of Heaven justice.  Streets of gold and crystal seas are descriptive words used in the bible because your minds can’t conceive what Heaven really is.

And to think a few of you out there have imagined Heaven as all of us sitting on clouds, strumming harps.  (big belly laugh from Luke)

Luke:  I get caught up at times...  You see, Heaven is my home.  I, the apostle Luke, live in the glory of God’s presence.  I wish I could show you just a small piece of it.  But God has sent me here today to remind you of what has taken place - and to give you a message of hope for what is to come.

If you have declared Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life, you have heaven to look forward to.  No matter what  hardships you have endured or what is ahead, I am here to tell you - don’t give up.  It’s worth it - Heaven is worth it!  Death is not to be feared.

If you have not received Jesus as Savior - don’t delay.  The bible tells us that the day is coming when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.  Be sure you have made your choice while you still have a choice.  Remember the words you heard Him say earlier:  Not every one who calls out ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter into Heaven.

In the Scriptures, the last days are described:  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.  Tell me, does that sound familiar?  Surely the last days are upon us.  They may span 100 days or 100 millenniums- only God the Father knows how long.  I do know that Jesus is returning-and the day is growing closer.  This time when He appears, it will be to establish His eternal kingdom.  Those who have chosen to seek and serve Him in this lifetime will receive their heavenly reward.  Jesus also said that those who are not for Him are against Him.  So if you think you don’t need to make a choice -  well,  you’ve just made one.

Take a stand for Jesus Christ.  Acceptance is not dependent on good works or good looks or good church attendance.   He had His arms wide open the day He was nailed to a cross and took your place and your punishment. The nails are no longer there, but the arms of Jesus Christ remain wide open today, waiting for you to chose Him.

Song :   I Will Follow Christ

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