Summary: A dialogue between Judas and Mary (sister of Lazarus), in which Judas reveals his family background and his reasons for his hatred of the Romans. Could be used as a pre-Easter script.
Style; Dramatic. Duration: 15min?
Scripture: John 12: 1-8
Actors: 1M, 1F
Setting: Mary is at a table, kneeding bread.
Judas (with a bag of coins in his pocket) arrives.
Judas knocks furtively, hardly waiting for an answer before he enters.
Judas: Mary, we need to talk.
Mary: Hello, Judas. Why don’t you just come in?
Judas: I am in. O, I’m sorry. I’m pre-occupied. - it’s about yesterday. About what happened. I’m still trying to figure it out. Why you did it. The waste! Why did you do it? I thought better of you.
Mary: I didn't do it for your approval. You can say what you like, but it is done, and I have nothing to apologize for.
Judas: But Mary, that nard. That ointment. It was worth a fortune. Three hundred denarii. That's almost a year's wages for a working stiff. Think of the good it could have done. The food it could have purchased for the poor. In my wildest imagination I just can not understand why you poured it out.
Mary: Maybe you need to find a wilder imagination, Judas.
Judas: Is that an insult?
Mary: Not if you don't make it one. Judas, your problem is you are so political. So righteous for the cause. So strategic. So focused on 'what is the practical thing we should do?' Everything for you is 'the cause'. Honestly, Judas. Don't you ever have any passion, except for your politics? Don't you ever show love? Don't you ever have any fun?
Judas: I did not join Jesus to have a party. If I had wanted a party I could have spent my days having coffee in the falafel house, and my nights in the bars. God knows there are too many people who do that already. No, Mary, I joined the movement because of what I thought it was. Though now I really wonder.
Mary: Wonder? About what?
Judas: About the movement. About the principles we stand for. Or at least what I thought we stood for.
Mary: Are you questioning Jesus' principles, Judas? If you are, I think you better say so.
Judas: I feel betrayed by Jesus. When I joined the cause it just felt so right. So purposeful. I loved the way he kept punching holes in the arguments of the Pharisees. I liked the fact that he spoke with street people, women of the night, fishermen. He touched lepers, Mary. He healed blind people. He gave people hope. He raised dead people.
Mary: You don't need to remind me of that. My brother Lazarus is all the evidence I need. Dead and risen. Yes, on that one we agree. Jesus has power. And compassion. He puts the Holy Joes in their place. But where's the betrayal in that? Isn't that why you joined, as you say, 'the movement, the cause'.
Judas: Honestly, Mary, I thought I was joining a real movement. And what I found was a group of people who just love each other. And talk about God all the time. Yes, Jesus has power. And he has authority like no one I've ever met. He has charisma - and that is what attracts people to him. But he is not political enough.
Mary: The Romans sure think he is political enough. So does Caiaphas the high priest. They all want him out of the way. I'm worried about him, Judas. Really worried.
Judas: If Jesus had listened to me, he could have overthrown the Romans by now. He has the power, Mary. He could have started a movement that would have been unstoppable. Made up of the people. Real people. People who never had any power before. People who have been repressed for so many years. When was the last time the people had their freedom, Mary? Freedom from political tyrants and religious hypocrites?
Mary: You've practiced this speech before, haven't you? But tell me, Judas, why did you feel you wanted to join in the first place? I realize, after all these years, I've never heard your story.
Judas: Actually, nobody ever asked me before. Even Jesus never asked. I just joined him, and he trusted me. Let me think, I guess I joined because of how I was raised. My family was very poor. Very, very poor. My mother was really the one who raised me, and my sister. She did washing and cleaning for other families, and sent us kids out to work when we were old enough.
She used to take us to synagogue on the Sabbath, and taught us to tithe like the Pharisees told us. I think that is where it started. Here we were, barely able to scrape enough together to keep ourselves alive, and we gave all this money to the priest. And they used it to dress themselves in all this fine clothing. And eat like there was no tomorrow. They were always fat, and well dressed. All the while they told us to make sacrifices for God. I seethed at their hypocrisy.
My mother was a woman of principle, though. She never let our poverty defeat us. We never wasted a thing. Never indulged ourselves. Everything we got was to be shared. So, you see, when I saw what you did today, pouring all that ointment over Jesus' feet, well, I could just see my mother's face, her eyes glaring, her mouth wide open, speechless. I was enraged.
Mary: That makes sense, Judas. And we are a bit like your family. And you have made our house your home. I can understand how you might have felt. But what about your father? You haven't mentioned him yet. Did you know your father? Was he around?
Judas: My father died in a Roman prison. Beaten to death, I imagine. Do I have to talk about it?
Mary: You don't have to.
Judas: Maybe I should. Maybe it would help you understand. My father was a blacksmith. A good one. His reputation got around for being a fine craftsman. He made good steel, and could hone a sharp edge on a plough - or a sword. And that is what brought the Romans to our house. A local Centurion saw his work and asked him to make swords for his troops.
My father despised the Romans. They had repressed our people for so long. Just like so many others before them. To make a sword for a Roman soldier was like making a dagger for his own back. But what choice did he have? So he made a pact with himself, and some of the zealots in the community. For every sword he made for the Romans, he would make a dagger for the zealots. Short, sharp and very effective for the purpose.
Mary: What purpose?
Judas: The cause. The ones who carried the daggers are called 'sicarius', daggermen. Assassins, some of them. Ready for the fight. For the cause. For the liberation of our people.
Mary: You're scaring me, Judas. Your last name. Iscariot. Is that where it comes from? Are you - a daggerman?
Judas: Let's just say father made me a dagger. I carry it with me, under my tunic. And he taught me how to use it. The point is, my father made daggers. And then one day he got caught. A soldier came a day early for his sword, and saw my father working on a dagger. That was the last time I saw him alive, being dragged away to prison. I can only imagine what they did to him. A year later they gave us notice that he had died. No body. No explanation.
Mary: You hate the Romans, don't you, Judas?
Judas: As much as I hate religious hypocrisy, and poverty. I've known them all, and I hate them.
Mary: Is that why you joined Jesus? To fight those things? and he’s not fighting the way you understand.
Judas: I would have joined any movement that fought those things. But, Mary, why did you join?
Mary: I don't really know where to start. I mean, I'm pretty much a home-body. I’ve lived here in Bethany all my life, with Martha and Lazarus, after our parents died, running this little bed and breakfast. You and Jesus and the rest of the disciples were here in town one day, looking for a place to stay. And ours was the place you chose.
I guess, like you, I was attracted to Jesus because of what he stood for. He was more than a customer to me. To all of us. I remember the first time he came here, Martha was in the kitchen making the meal, and I was in the living room talking with Jesus. Martha was raising a fuss that I wasn't helping her. But Jesus turned around and told her not to be so distracted by so many things. He said that I was doing what I needed to do.
And he was right. I think that I am a very spiritual person, Judas. I don't have a political bone in my body. I don't understand the rebellion - and I don't know if I would support it or not. All I know is that Jesus touched my heart and soul with words that were O so true. He spoke of things that I had only dared to dream about. Of things that mattered to God. Of the dignity of all God's children. And then, that day when Lazarus died, my brother and Jesus' dear friend, I thought I would lose it. I had sent a message to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, hoping he would come. But he never did. Not for several days. Not until we had wrapped Lazarus in linens and laid his body in the tomb.
But then Jesus came, embraced me and Martha, and walked over to the place where Lazarus lay dead. He told them to roll away the stone. We braced ourselves. And my brother walked out. Alive. It’s still hard to believe.
Judas: I remember that day, Mary. And I am glad for you that your brother is alive. But why the ointment? Why the waste?
Mary: Call it waste if you want. It was because I love him, Judas. In a way you will never understand. I don't mean like a lover. And it's not just about Lazarus. I love him because of who he is. And what he has taught me, and shared with me. And what he has done for so many others. He is not just a guest in my house. He is not a cause for me. He is like all that God wants us to be. I felt like I was anointing God. Judas, this is no ordinary human being. And, besides, I am afraid. I am afraid he will not be with us much longer. I just know it in my bones.
Judas: There’s another reason I came, Mary. I have to tell you. He is in trouble. (Judas jingles a bag of coins in his pocket.)
Mary: I know that.
Judas: And you can't do anything to stop it. (Takes the bag of coins out of his pocket, holds it loosely in his hand.)
Mary: What do you mean by that? Why would you think I could do anything?
Judas: You can’t. none of you can. (softly) I can - or can I? (He jingles his bag of coins, tosses it up in the air, looks at it with anguish, throws it down contemptously, turns briefly to Mary), “I have to go now, Mary.” (Runs off.)
Written by Jim Hatherly
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