Summary: A Good Friday dramatization. This presentation was inspired by He Chose the Nails, by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson 2000).  It includes 5 narrations with accompanying scripture readings and suggested congregational hymns.  Scripture is varied, with passages taken from the old and new testaments.  It does not have a specific location, but it does reference the trial by Pilate and the crucifiction itself. 
Style: Strong drama.    Duration: 20min approx. 
Cast: The presentation calls for 5 narrators, though it can be done with a single narrator, and two scripture readers - one old testament and one new testament.  These are not biblical characters, so no costuming is called for.  In addition, a set of props is referenced in the script. You may need to go on-line to get the text for the sign, including Latin, Greek and Hebrew fonts.


Note: On a table at the front of the sanctuary are a number of props, including an acorn, a seedling, a crown of thorns, a hammer and nail, a sign inscribed with “King of the Jews” in three languages, and a robe. The individual narrators come forward and address the specific props.

1) The Tree

Narr: (Pick up acorn.) In the forest, a seed fell to the ground. A squirrel came by, but ignored the seed. Over the winter, the hard shell cracked, and in the spring, tender roots grew downward into the hard soil of the forest. Gradually, a seedling sprang up. (Replace acorn and pick up seedling.) Deer passed through the forest, feeding on tender growth, but this particular seedling was spared. Gradually, over a number of years, the seedling grew into a tree. Lumber cutters hewed down other trees, but seeing no particular attractiveness in the tree, spared it from the axe. Until the day, when a woodcutter laid axe to the tree. Branches were lopped off, and the trunk dragged out of the forest, placed on a wagon, and hauled to the lumber yard. The bark was stripped off, and it was roughly hewn to form a crude beam. Then it sat in a corner of the yard and aged. Too good for firewood, but not good enough for furniture craftsmen, it just sat.

Then one day a soldier stopped by the lumber yard. Wood was needed. Nothing fancy, just sturdy. The piece of tree, long forgotten in the corner, was chosen, and dragged to the Roman barracks.

A trial was under way. At the end of the trial, the beam was lashed to the bleeding shoulders of the condemned prisoner, one Jesus, an itinerant preacher from Nazareth. At the execution site, he was savagely nailed to that tree, which was then stood up for all to see.

Trees grow upward. They grow toward the sunlight. And even as an instrument of death, it was erect. Bearing the son of God above the earth. Jesus was not poisoned in a back alley. He was not beheaded deep in some dungeon. No, he was lifted up. Where he could be seen.

Reader 1: But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!"

Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people.

The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.

Reader 2: No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

Narr: Like the bronze snake in the desert, Jesus was raised up, so that we may look upon him and live. You see, this tree, which God planted, protected and nourished, became the instrument upon which His son would be crucified. Not for his sins, but for mine, for yours, for ours. God chose the tree. Thank you, God, for choosing the tree. And thank you for choosing me.

Song: Man of Sorrows, What a Name (vs 1-4)

2) The Crown of Thorns

Narr: (Pick up crown of thorns.) Right from the beginning, thorns were a consequence of our sin. When Adam sinned, God told him the ground would be cursed, with thorns and thistles. Thorns are repeatedly cited as punishment for sin – a reminder of the curse we are under.

Reader 1: To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

Reader 2: To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, `You must not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."

Narr: Before Jesus was crucified, a soldier took thorns and formed a crown. This crown was forced onto his brow, piercing his scalp. The blood flowed down, mixed with sweat and tears. The consequences of our sin, for all to see, as a royal symbol. He wasn’t guilty, but he took the curse upon himself, and by bearing the curse, made us free.

Reader 1: Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Reader 2: Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Narr: You see, God chose the thorns. Thank you, God, for choosing the thorns. And thank you for choosing me.

Song: O Sacred Head now Wounded (vs 1-3)

3) The Sign

Narr: Pilate was in a rotten mood. The priests of this backwater country were here again, dragging in another prisoner. “He’s a criminal.” “Calls himself a king.” “Deserves death.” Pilate’s ears perked up. King? Who is this man? (Turns toward prisoner.) “So. Are you a king?” “In a word, yes. But not in this place. In a different world. I’m here to tell the truth about it.” This just drove the priests and other leaders into a frenzy. Pilate smiled to himself. “So,” he thought, “we have a power struggle going on. And someone has stepped on somebody else’s toes.” This Pilate understood. Pilate took the prisoner aside, hoping to gain some insight into the issue, but the prisoner now refused to talk. Okay, is this a legitimate heir to some pre-Roman throne? Or some mental case? To try and placate the Jewish leaders, Pilate had the prisoner flogged, then brought back into the room where the mob of Jews was waiting. “Here. Here’s your king. You take care of it.” The reaction was instantaneous. “Not him!” “He’s not our king!” “We’ve got no king but Caesar!” Pilate was stunned. No king but Caesar? Hah! As if. No, these people were really afraid of the prisoner. Something about him scared them. Probably some hold over the populace. Hmm. This could get nasty. Rome had the Sanhedrin pretty much where they wanted them. But if the hoi polloi decided to make him king, it could really upset the power dynamics. And Pilate preferred there be no such problems attracting Rome’s eye. As the trial progressed, all that was apparent was that the prisoner was some sort of traveling teacher.

Pilate offered an exchange. Barrabas, a notorious murderer, - think home grown terrorist - in exchange for the prisoner. What could be simpler? But no, this crowd would take a murderer over a teacher. Pilate gave up. If it would keep a riot from starting, so be it. Let him be killed. Besides, he was a nobody anyway.

(Pick up sign.) Now as an example and a warning to the populace, each condemned prisoner had a sign hung on his cross, listing his crimes. Murderer. Rapist. Thief. How to identify this one? Pilate thought for a moment, then calling one of the soldiers, gave instructions. As the prisoner was led out, the sign was there to see. In Latin, Greek and Hebrew, it said “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” The Jewish leaders were furious. “Don’t say that. Say he said he was king of the Jews!” Pilate just smiled. “I’ve already written it, and it says what it says. Live with it.”

The sign spoke in the languages of everyone. Latin – the language of the law. Greek – the language of culture. Hebrew – the language of religion. It told those who would look at the crucified Jesus that he was the King of the Jews. The son of David. The awaited redeemer. But not just to the Jews, but to the Romans and the Greeks too. Everyone. Pilate’s intent was not to spread the gospel, but that’s what he did. Whether the intent of the caption on the sign was to spite the Jewish rulers, or to tell the world “This is what we do to those who would take the glory due Caesar,” the effect nevertheless was to spread the word to all who would see that Jesus was the Christ. The sign tells each of us who Jesus was and is. God chose the sign. Thank you, God, for choosing the sign. And thank you for choosing me.

Song: You Are My King

4) The Nails

Narr: (Pick up hammer and nail). When the soldier picked up the hammer and nails, little did he realize what he was doing – or to whom he was doing it. As he raised the hammer, he assumed he was about to crucify some criminal, not the maker of the world. As he drove the nails home, he assumed all he was piercing was the hand before him. But in reality, not only was he nailing God’s son to the cross, he was nailing an incredible list of sins to the cross – all the sins which had been committed – and all that would be committed. That list was what the accuser used to prevent our entrance to the courts of heaven. But the blood from the wounds made by the nails would completely cover the list, destroying its effect.

Reader 1: If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Reader 2: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Narr: The nails which pierced our savior also cleared our path to heaven. God chose the nails. Thank you, God, for choosing the nails. And thank you for choosing me.

Song: How Deep the Father's Love for Us

5) The Robe

Narr: (Pick up robe.) The only item of Jesus’ clothing specified in the Bible, other than the swaddling cloths at his birth, is his robe. This was a special garment, possibly given to him by his mother. It was woven from the top to the bottom in a single piece of cloth, without seam. The Bible often uses clothing as a metaphor for our living.

Reader 1: All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Narr: But Jesus wore a perfect, seamless garment, representative of his holiness. When Jesus was crucified, he was stripped of his clothing. His fine garment gone, he was crucified in shame and dishonor, with even less than the filthy rags we wore. His clothes were divided up by his executioners. But the robe was too fine a garment to simply tear up and share. So the soldiers cast lots – they gambled for it. Someone – we don’t know who – took home a fine garment at the end of the day.

But while the robe remained intact, a different piece of fabric as it were, something much more significant, was torn in two. As Jesus died, the curtain in the temple was torn in two. Top to bottom. From heaven to earth. The curtain was the barrier beyond which no one but the high priest – and only once a year – could pass. It was the barrier between man and God. And that barrier was rent asunder.

Reader 2: Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Narr: So we have a robe, woven in one piece, top to bottom. And a veil, torn from top to bottom. The robe, representing the perfection of the new covenant, still intact. And the veil, representing the limitations of the law, destroyed as the price was paid. And through this torn veil, we can approach God. God chose the robe. Thank you, God, for choosing the robe. And thank you for choosing me.

Song: Before the Throne of God Above


© Copyright John M. Shekleton, 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.

This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. He may be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.