Summary: The following are three monologues narrated by centurions mentioned in the Gospels and the Book of Acts.
Style: Dramatic. Duration: Each one is 5-10 mins.
Actors: Three males
Note: These could be played in sequence, or used over three occasions in the Easter period.
1. The Centurion’s Letter
After the death of Jesus a certain centurion may have written to another centurion, whose servant had been healed by Jesus and this is what he may have said. (performed as a monologue on a telephone or as the reading of a letter)
I don’t believe we have ever met as you are stationed out in the countryside and I am attached to the Jerusalem garrison.
I’m sorry to start this letter with news that will sadden you but I must… Jesus is dead. He was executed recently and I was responsible! To be more accurate, I was the centurion in charge of his execution. Now obviously you will be upset by this news as I understand that you met him and was impressed by his ministry. I was told that he healed your servant.
I am really writing to ask you advice. On the day of his execution it was just another day to me. I had a duty to perform and although I did not particularly enjoy this part of my duties I was determined to do my duty and then go home…
But it didn’t turn out like that. On that day I was changed forever. I casually watched the proceeding at the start of the day, not knowing who the three men were who were to be executed. But I soon noticed one man, whom I later knew as Jesus, was very different from his companions.
The Jews had demanded his execution because they claimed that Jesus had said he was the King of the Jews. As a result of this not only were some of the chief priests and scribes annoyed, but the Roman soldiers were not impressed either by a king of the Jews. The result was that the soldiers cruelly abused Jesus. They stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe and when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” I casually watched this from a distance because I had to be there.
It was only when I noticed the red robe and the fact that they had pulled out the hairs from his beard that I realised how different Jesus was. He never made a sound under the torture and just looked, well I know this sounds strange, but he looked almost serene!
On the way to Golgotha, Jesus was so weak that someone was detailed to carry his cross. As they hammered the nails into him he never made a sound and as they lifted him up on his cross Jesus said words that I shall never forget: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”. How could a man in such agony say that? I know this may sound strange, but I think he loved us – the soldiers that were crucified him, me included.
Now I come to the point of this letter. I confess that I know nothing about religion and never heard any of the teachings of Jesus but one thing I truly believe: “He was a righteous man!” and I have kept the best news until last:
HE IS RISEN! HE IS ALIVE!
Now I want to follow him and his teachings and learn all I can about him. Will you help me? Perhaps we could meet and go together to find Jesus and his disciples.
I look forward to your early reply
A Jerusalem centurion
2. THE CAPERNAUM CENTURION
Summary: This centurion is based on Luke 7:1-10) the first soldier mentioned in the New Testament. (The 2nd centurion mentioned in the Gospels during the ministry of Jesus is the one who witnessed His crucifixion.)
Palestine was the best posting I ever had during my entire service in the roman army. I even preferred it to Rome, my home town.
As soon as I arrived in the Holy land, I felt at home and in the right place.
At first I didn’t realise why, but later on, after I’d met Jesus, I began to understand.
I soon settled down and even rented a comfortable house in Capernaum, in which to live. Although I was considered a barbarian by the Jews, I grew to love the country and the people.
As time went on I got to know the local Jewish leaders and wanted to be of service to them. Despite being a conquered people they were kind to me and all the members of my household.
The Jews at that time were not prosperous, and when I found that they wanted a new temple I paid for one out of my own pocket. I know that that was an unusual act for an occupying soldier but I wanted to help my neighbours.
It was against regulations for a centurion to be married but out of a discreet relationship with a local girl, I became a father. The mother and the boy lived in my household, posing as my servants.
All was well with my life until one day, my son became very ill and lay paralysed. I was mortified.
At first I did not know what to do but in the course of my mixing with the local population, I had heard about a Jewish prophet called Jesus.
Apparently this man went about preaching and healing people.
This was my chance. I quickly contacted some local leaders and asked them to approach Jesus on my behalf.
As a barbarian I did not consider myself worthy to approach Jesus directly, because I knew that the Jews normally did not mix with foreigners.
It was only later, that I learned of the full story of my encounter with Jesus and I felt very humble.
When my representatives found Jesus they had pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.”
Jesus then immediately went with them, but when I realised that He was not far from my house, through a servant that had kept me informed of the situation, I sent a message, via that servant to Jesus saying:
“Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
I understand that Jesus was very surprised at my words.
When He heard them he marveled, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said,
“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”
I was a little surprised, and also honoured at the remarks of Jesus. I knew that He would understand authority, just as I did.
From that day forward I tried to follow Jesus, and when my duties allowed it, to go to every place I could in order to hear Him. I became a barbarian follower of Jesus and it changed my life forever.
3. The Centurion at Caesarea
Summary: A short drama based on Acts 10:1-48. Illustrating the effect of how the teaching of Jesus, effected a roman soldier, and is ideal for a meeting with unsaved believers.
My name is Cornelius and as a roman soldier living in Caesarea, I had my own house with many servants.
During the years that I was stationed in Israel I gradually began to mix with the local population and it was through them that I first heard about Jesus and His crucifixion.
I must confess that I was drawn to the teachings of Jesus and eventually became a believer after hearing one of His disciples preach.
The local inhabitants welcomed me, despite the fact that I was a barbarian and I went to lots of meetings with the local believers.
My faith in Jesus became the most important thing in my life. I feared God with great reverence and I prayed regularly to Him.
What I didn’t know, during this time was that God had heard my prayers and was sending the apostle Peter to meet me.
One day I was praying as normal when I clearly saw a vision and an angel said to me: “Cornelius.”
I was terrified and asked, “What is it Lord?”
The angel said to me, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God and now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter.”
The angel gave further instructions, “He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
Then the angel disappeared as quickly as he had come. I was in a state of shock and fear but after a short while I realised that I must obey the Lord.
I immediately sent two of my servants (and a devout soldier from among those who attended me) to Joppa with instructions to find Peter.
Later Peter described to me what had happened to Him in Joppa. He had gone up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.
And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance.
He then saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.
In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.
And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”
This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
Peter was obviously troubled by the vision and wondered what the vision meant. It was then that the men I had sent, arrived at Simon’s house,
and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there.
Peter was still pondering about the vision, when the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”
Peter then went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?”
They answered, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.”
Peter then invited them in, to be his guests, and the next day he went with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. On the following day they entered Caesarea.
I was expecting them and had called together my relatives and close friends.
When Peter entered, I met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted me up, and said, “Stand up; I too am a man.”
Peter told us. “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.
So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”
I told him, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’
So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”
Peter replied: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on us all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.
For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptising these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
Peter then commanded us to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ.
Afterwards we asked him to remain with us for some days and enjoyed fellowship with him and all the believers.
My life was never the same again after this and I enjoyed peace and security in the Lord Jesus.
© Copyright Roger Bulpitt 2020, all rights reserved. The script may not be reproduced, translated or copied in any medium, including books, CDs and on the Internet, without written permission of the author.
Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved.