STRANGERS OF THE UPPER ROOM

The Last Supper, Jacopo Bassano, 1542, Oil on canvas, Galleria Borghese, Rome (Web Gallery of Art).  Click to visit the Web Gallery of Art.


A Play In Two Scenes
By Father John R. Green

Copyright © by John R. Green
Shown with his blessing

(Return To "An Episcopal Poet")


THE STORY

What might have happened in the upper room before and after the Last Supper - An explanation of Judas Iscariot's betrayal of Jesus Christ - A view of Mary Magdalene.


CAST OF CHARACTERS



             Mary Magdalene  A Friend of Jesus Christ 

             Ben Air         One of the 70 commissioned by Christ

             Peter           One of the Twelve Disciples
     
             Judas Iscariot  One of the Twelve Disciples

             James Zebedes   One of the Twelve Disciples

             John Zebedes    One of the Twelve Disciples
       
             Laban           The Sadducee

             Ruel            The Pharisee

             Joanna          Servant of The Upper Room

Scene 1

An upper room of a house in Jerusalem

Time

Mid-morning of the day of the Passover feast


ACT I

SCENE 1

SETTING: A long table seating thirteen is placed at the center of room. A reclining seat is situated to the left and shortly forward of the table, facing frontward. A second reclining seat is located to the right and shortly forward of table, facing frontward. A door covered with a red curtain and leading to another room is located at rear center of room. A second door covered with a red curtain and leading to a hallway is situated at left end center of room, while a third door covered with a red curtain leads to a hallway at right end center of room.

AT RISE: Mary Magdalene is meditating in reclining seat at left front of table. Enter Ben Air who greets her with spreading arms. In return, Mary Magdalene smiles broadly and brightly.


BEN AIR (smiling warmly) Ah, Mary, alone again.


MARY MAGDALENE (delighted with his appearance) I am expecting some of the Disciples any moment now. I hope you will remain with me until they arrive, at which time I shall be leaving here.


BEN AIR (moving toward Mary Magdalene) I do not wish to be here when the Disciples return, and I want to rejoin our Lord. I am here to inform Joanna that she will receive the lamb at noon. Judas has procured it, and Andrew will make the delivery. I will see her now. (moves toward rear center door).


MARY MAGDALENE (happily) Oh, Joanna will be delighted with your message. Now she shall have ample time to prepare the Passover feast.


(Ben Air disappears through door and after several moments he rejoins Mary Magdalene.)

BEN AIR Will you be with our Lord and the twelve for the Passover meal?


MARY MAGDALENE No, our Lord wants to be alone with the Disciples. Let us leave here together.


BEN AIR (moves a few paces from Mary Magdalene and then returns to her) I often wonder why our Lord wants to be with the twelve Disciples at any time or place. Why did he choose such an unlikely lot to serve him? They are uneducated, slow to learn and not at all impressive.


MARY MAGDALENE (smiling thoughtfully) I, too, used to wonder about that, but then I came to realize that he selected them because of their potential. He always recognizes the good, the positive and the splendid possibilities apparent or hidden in everyone he meets. (pause, shakes her head) What did people see in me when I first met my Lord? A downtrodden Galilean woman possessed with seven demons. Now I travel with him.


BEN AIR (resignedly) Your explanation is intriguing, but I fail to see potential in the Disciples with one notable exception.


MARY MAGDALENE You are referring to Judas Iscariot?


BEN AIR (nodding his head vigorously) Precisely! I view Judas Iscariot as a competent leader and administrator, who exhibits a high degree of intelligence.


MARY MAGDALENE Oh, I believe our Lord is in complete agreement with you about Judas. I think he expects more from Judas than the other members of the Discipleís band. (pause) Of course, Judas isnít one of the inner circle.


BEN AIR (puzzled) The inner circle?


MARY MAGDALENE Our Lord has confidential meetings with Peter, James and John in which he shares much of significance. Recently, they seemed to have had an overwhelming experience on a mountain top. I would love to know what happened up there. Peter, James and John seemed to have a different concept of our Lord when they returned below. They wanted to stay on the mountain with our Lord. (pause) It is odd that following their ecstasy on high they couldnít perform a healing when they reached the earth below.


BEN AIR Now Peter was the first to recognize the true identity of our Lord. What greater than that could have happened, on the mountain?.


MARY MAGDALENE Peter was the first to comprehend the Messiahship of our Lord, that is true. But all indications are that he saw much more in him at those heights. As for me, I donít need to know more about him than he wishes to reveal to me.


BEN AIR I am trying to understand why Judas Iscariot is excluded from the inner circle.


MARY MAGDALENE (rising from her seat) I donít know. It may be because Judas is the one who keeps the entire group moving. You know that he is the treasurer and financial manager. He provides our Lord and the Disciples with their food and lodging. He designs the route they travel in carrying forth our Lordís ministry. It is he whom the women in Jerusalem entrust their monetary contributions which finances the mission of our Lord. And, then again, Judas is an individualist - not given to intimacy. (musing) But I wonder how he would have reacted had he been on the mountain with Peter, James and John?


BEN AIR (perplexed, moves to front of room) But the achievements and competency of Judas Iscariot, donít they place him at odds with the other eleven?


MARY MAGDALENE (shaking her head while walking to front of room) Not at all. They are very dependent upon him and admire his administrative skills. He seems oblivious to the inner circle - paying it no mind. (pause) And I tell you, Ben Air, he is the only one of the twelve with whom I truly feel comfortable, and I believe he is comfortable in my presence. The others are still somewhat shy about women functioning in religious circles.


BEN AIR (slowly and forcefully) Does he comprehend all of our Lordís teachings?


MARY MAGDALENE (pause, as she gazes upwards; then returns to her seat) All but one. Judas is under the impression that our Lord is going to restore Israel to the glory of the Davidic Kingdom, but I fail to find anything in his precepts of teaching that support this contention. (pause, as in deep thought) It is strange, though, when Judas is confronting the Pharisees and Sadducees he champions our Lordís teaching and preachings; yet, when he is with our Lord he challenges these same preachings and teachings.


BEN AIR (shaking his head) Judas Iscariot is by no means the only Israelite who views our Lord as a military Messiah. Many see him overcoming the Roman Empire and establishing Israelís reign over the entire world. Certainly, many in that palm parade were hailing him in this light.


MARY MAGDALENE(smiling, sorrowfully) Yes, and I believe the other Disciples share a similar hope for Israel, but they no longer argue among themselves as to the positions of glory they will hold in this worldly kingdom. They are struggling with the prophecy of our Lord that he will die in Jerusalem and their vow to die with him.


BEN AIR (throwing his arms outward) Oh, how I wish I were one of the twelve!


MARY MAGDALENE(curiously) My dear friend, Ben Air, do you really envy the twelve?


BEN AIR (shaking his head) No, I think I speak truthfully in declaring no such envy. (emphatically) But other than Judas Iscariot, I believe I am more capable than they as a witness for our Lord. I am confident that I could serve our Lord with greater effectiveness than I have observed in them. I feel that I proved this when our Lord sent me as one of the seventy to preach, teach and heal. (turns toward Mary Magdalene) I imagine you may feel likewise. (returns to seated Mary Magdalene) Does our Lord have a sharing relationship with you?


MARY MAGDALENE Often when he is severely frustrated with the inner circle he will confide his agony to me. However, I am content simply to be his friend. You know how utterly rare it is for a woman to be close to a religious leader in the land of Israel. I know our Lord as a changer of hearts, a transformer of characters and personalities and the key to eternal life. I donít understand all of his teachings, but I think I have grasped the true meaning of the Kingdom of which he speaks.


BEN AIR (clapping his hands) So be it! Shall we depart?

(Exit Mary Magdalene and Ben Air through left center door. Following a pause, enter Judas Iscariot, Peter, James, and John through left center door. Judas proceeds to center of room and front, while Peter, James, and John slowly move to a position midway between door and Judas Iscariot. All are facing forward.)


PETER Following the palm parade I thought I would be in a state of ecstasy, (shaking his head) but, simply stated, I am far from it.


JUDAS ISCARIOT I feel with you, Peter. For a brief period following the waving of the palms and the shouting of hosanna to a king, I thought our Lord was going to act like a king - the true king of Israel! (shaking his head) But instead he went after the money changers in the Temple and renewed his verbal confrontations with his old foes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees.


PETER Of late, you are very angry and bitter; Judas.


JUDAS ISCARIOT Well, I am keenly disappointed and sorely distressed. I cast my lot with him hoping that he would restore the kingdom to Israel. Why hasnít he done so?


PETER I donít know, but I am worried and afraid. I love him and I want no harm to come to him. Remember, Judas Iscariot, he has predicted that he will die in Jerusalem!


JUDAS ISCARIOT My affection for him remains, but he will never fulfill the destiny of Israel. He will never revolt against Rome.


JAMES You are saying that you can no longer hope to be the minister of finance and administration in a great kingdom of Israel?


JUDAS ISCARIOT (sarcastically) At times, your perceptivity overwhelms me, James.


JOHN Not that it matters now, but I thought you were covetous of the governorship of Rome?


JUDAS ISCARIOT (shaking his head) I imagined Peterís fantasy was directed toward the imperial city.


PETER (vigorously) In Rome is the last place I want to be! (pause) I desire to be in Jerusalem with my Lord!


JUDAS ISCARIOT Well, the glory has vanished for us.

(Enter Laban, the Sadducee, through the right center door, and Judas Iscariot, Peter, James and John turn toward him. Judas swings his right arm in mocking salute to Laban.)

Behold! Behold, Laban, the pride and glory of the Sadducees draweth nigh!


(Laban approaches to within three paces of Judas Iscariot.)

LABAN (gritting) This Jesus is shaking the very foundations of the faith of Israel!


JUDAS ISCARIOT (sardonically) You mean the Sadduceeís version of the faith of Israel.


LABAN (his body shaking) Are you implying that we do not ascribe to the Law?


JUDAS ISCARIOT Where are the Prophets in your scheme of things? Where is Elijah? Where is Isaiah? Where is Jeremiah? You have conveniently excluded them.


LABAN (sarcastically) This Jesus approves of Israelites paying taxes to Caesar. As one who detests the rule of Rome over Israel, how do you feel about that?


JUDAS ISCARIOT (taking a stride toward Laban, who retreats a stride from Judas) Oh, how you love to deceive yourself, Sadducee Laban! You know perfectly well that he never made such a declaration.


LABAN Did he not say ďRender Unto Caesar what is Caesarís?Ē


JUDAS ISCARIOT (taking another stride toward Laban, who retreats a stride) ďAnd to God what is Godís!Ē And just what is Caesarís? You Sadducees thought you were very clever when you set that trap for my Lord, but, much to your consternation, he avoided it. You cannot accuse him of being anti-Caesar, nor can the Pharisees charge him with being against the best interests of Israel. (pause, smiling triumphantly) Itís mighty frustrating for you, is it not?


LABAN (flustered,) Your Jesus proclaims the resurrection. Now where in the great Law is it written about the resurrection?


JUDAS ISCARIOT I repeat! You Sadducees hail the Law and ignore the Prophets. You thought you were brilliant in presenting that seven wives, one husband dilemma, but my Lord left you dumbfounded. (pause) What now are your remarks and observations about my Lord chasing the money changers from the Temple? As guardians of the Temple, how do you Sadducees account for the corruption taking place therein?


LABAN (emphatically) Your Jesus is attacking both the faith of Israel and the authority of Rome, and we intend to bring him to justice.


JUDAS ISCARIOT (shaking his head) You have no reason to worry that he will lead a revolt against Caesar, as happy as I would be to see this happen. You Sadducees want both the security of Rome and the glory of the Temple. But my Lord speaks of a different kind of salvation - blessings of the blessed. How blessed are you Sadducees?


LABAN (forcefully) How wise are you, Judas Iscariot?

(Laban exits through right center door)


JUDAS ISCARIOT (turning to Peter, James and John) You are so boastful about our enemies when we are alone with our Lord but conspicuously silent when facing them.


PETER You are more eloquent than the three of us. (Judas throws his arms in disgust.)


JAMES Oh, this is true, Judas. With much skill and knowledge, you refute all of their hypocritical attacks on our Lord.


JOHN I am afraid I would be all sounds with little effect.


JUDAS ISCARIOT You have mellowed considerably, James and John. Apparently, our Lordís treatise on compassion and gentleness has penetrated your souls.


JOHN Yes, but in times past James and I vent our anger towards only those who attacked us - the Samaritans.


(enter Ruel, the Pharisee, through left center door and Judas, Peter, James and John turn toward him)


JUDAS ISCARIOT (facetiously) I will try to be eloquent again. (to Ruel) A herald of the Law just departed. What a pity you were not here!


RUEL (moving within a few paces of Judas) You would love to do battle with us together, Judas Iscariot. The Sadducees practice the Law, but we Pharisees interpret and teach it.


JUDAS ISCARIOT (pointedly) Should I congratulate you?


RUEL (pointing finger toward Judas) Take heed, Judas Iscariot, you are giving support to that impostor, Jesus of Nazareth. We will silence him, I assure you. And I warn you and your cohorts (pointing to Peter, James and John) that we will deal severely with you if you persist in following him!

(Peter, James and John exchange apprehensive glances.)


JUDAS ISCARIOT Your interpretation of the Law has placed a burden of guilt and anxiety on the people of Israel; and our Lord is challenging your authority and perception of what is true. This really makes you squirm, does it not you Pharisaic hypocrites!

(Peter, James and John applaud Judas Iscariot)


RUEL (screeching with rage) Cheer on you fools! Fast approaches the day when you shall weep!


JUDAS ISCARIOT You have heard our Lord pronounce woes upon you Pharisees. Woe to you who give huge gifts to the Temple while your parents and fellow Israelites groan in poverty and starvation! In addition to the tax which we pay to Caesar, we pay all manner of tributes to the Temple. How soon will you be leveling a tax on our eating, sleeping and breathing?


RUEL Your so-called Lord claims to have authority to forgive sins. (throws his arms in air) Blasphemy! Utter blasphemy! And he mocks our Sabbath Laws - engaging in healing!


JUDAS ISCARIOT (throwing his arms sideways) Has anybody complained about being healed on the Sabbath?

(Peter, James and John cheer Judas Iscariot with laughter.)

We are created to live in harmony with our creator and enjoy his gifts to us.


RUEL (flustered) You approve of him eating with sinners?


JUDAS ISCARIOT (pointedly) Who isnít a sinner? Our Lord declares that prostitutes go into the Kingdom of Heaven ahead of you Pharisees.


RUEL (wringing his hands and shaking his head) Oh, it is hopeless counseling with you, Judas Iscariot! This Jesus whom you call Lord is not the true Messiah of Israel, and he must be silenced.


JUDAS ISCARIOT (intrigued) How do you propose to silence him?


RUEL (startled) You really want to know?


JUDAS ISCARIOT I am indeed curious.


PETER (to Ruel) You and your cohorts have been acting to silence him for three years now, with zero success. I, for one, do not care to hear this matter raved about. I shall be rejoining my Lord.

(exit Peter, James and John through left center door)


JUDAS ISCARIOT (calling to Peter, James and John) I will be with you later on! (to Ruel) Now what is this momentous plan of yours to eliminate my Lord from the heart of the faith of Israel?


RUEL (guardedly) Why do you wish to possess knowledge of our strategy?


JUDAS ISCARIOT (pointedly) Why do you wish to tell me?


RUEL (slowly) Despite your powerful witnessing for Jesus of Nazareth, I seem to detect a disagreement you have with him and his mission.


JUDAS ISCARIOT Ah, so this is why your spies have trailed me to this upper room? Have the Sadducees employed the same spies?


RUEL Finding you here was not a problem, I assure you. But finding where you and your Lord will be following the Passover meal might not be so easy for us.


JUDAS ISCARIOT Well, donít faint with shock over what I am about to inform you. (pause, as Judas and Ruel survey each other in anxious anticipation) Neither do I regard my Lord as the true Messiah of Israel.


RUEL (astounded) You certainly had me fooled! (clapping his hands in glee) Now we are making some real progress. (pause) Why do you now say he is not Israelís Messiah?


JUDAS ISCARIOT You well know the answer to your question. Israelís destiny is to be free from Rome and to have the Kingdom of David restored. This is to be the mission of the Messiah when he comes. This is not the mission of my Lord.


RUEL (puzzled) But you keep referring to him as your Lord?


JUDAS ISCARIOT (emphatically) He is my Lord! (fiercely to Ruel) And donít you ever forget it! He is my Lordly friend and teacher of righteousness, and I have never wavered in following him as such. But now I know he is not the Messiah. Had I been aware of this when first I met him, I would have never joined him and the Disciple band. The people of Israel must not look to him as their messiah.


RUEL (shaking his head and throwing his arms in the air) You utterly confuse me! We have never heard him claim to be the Messiah. Yet, this was apparently the identity you attribute to him at the time you joined with him.


JUDAS ISCARIOT At my Lordís baptism, John ascribed to him the majesty of the Messiah, or so I thought at the time. But be that as it may, what is your plan, if any, for silencing him?


RUEL (pointedly) This is where you join with us. We will expect you to inform us as to where he will be hiding following the Passover feast.


JUDAS ISCARIOT Why after the Passover feast? We shall be celebrating the Passover in this very room.


RUEL I have credited you with more perceptivity than you are exhibiting. Canít you imagine the uproar in Jerusalem should we seize him at this location, especially at the conclusion of the Passover celebration? He is still hailed king by the multitudes who watched the palm parade.


JUDAS ISCARIOT(shaking his head) I donít know where he will be later tonight, but I shall make this discovery. Is leading you to his whereabouts all you desire from me?


RUEL Good! We will have him seized by Roman soldiers.


JUDAS ISCARIOT(startled and angry) Roman soldiers seize him! What has Roman soldiers to do with your taking him?


RUEL The soldiers are merely a formality. Should we attempt to arrest him, there might be a struggle with his Disciples.


JUDAS ISCARIOT(shaking his head) I donít know! Where will the soldiers take him?


RUEL To the Sanhedrin.


JUDAS ISCARIOT To that den of iniquity.

(Ruel recoils in horror)

But I suppose there is no alternative. What will the Sanhedrin do?


RUEL (moving three paces from Judas, guardedly) We will simply forbid him to preach on pain of imprisonment.


JUDAS ISCARIOT (laughing, scornfully) And you think that will stop him?


RUEL We can threaten him with Rome.


JUDAS ISCARIOT (outraged, rushes to Ruel and seizes him by the throat) I want no harm to come to him. Do you utterly and completely understand this warning?


RUEL (gasping in agony) He will not be harmed! He will not be harmed! (Judas releases his hold on Ruelís throat. Ruel paces about eying Judas with dismay) You dare to lay hands upon a Pharisee!?


JUDAS ISCARIOT I warn you as one who fears neither Pharisee or Sadducees that I do not countenance his being brought before Pontius Pilate. Unless you bring me assurance from the Sanhedrin that this action shall not take place you will receive no assistance from me. (pause) I still revere him as one who has preached and taught the greatest truths ever heard by men. How could I fail to love one who has healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, restored the dead to life and healed the broken hearted? Why not banish him to Greece? The Greeks need him far more than they need their philosophers. I repeat my desire that the people of Israel do not accept him as their Messiah; that they wait for another.


RUEL (slowly approaching Judas) I am confident that the Sanhedrin will provide you with the assurance which you demand. (pause) Now what is your price?


JUDAS ISCARIOT (exasperated) Price? I am not asking for gold or silver!


RUEL (soothingly) This is merely a token of our agreement, a bit of formality which I am certain the Sanhedrin will insist upon. Shall we speak of thirty pieces of silver?


JUDAS ISCARIOT (laughing, scornfully) If I were seeking monetary reward I would demand far more than that paltry sum!


RUEL (pacifying) Oh, this I do not doubt for one moment. Now you shall receive the silver at the time I bring you the assurance of the Sanhedrin. I must leave now. Wait for me at twilight on Mount Olivet.

(exit Ruel from left center door, Judas pauses briefly and then strikes his head in vexation. He departs through left center door.


CURTAIN


Scene 2

An upper room of a house in Jerusalem

Time

In the late evening after the Passover feast


ACT I

SCENE 2

SETTING: (The same as in scene 1) A long table seating thirteen is placed at the center of room. A reclining seat is situated to the left and shortly forward of the table, facing frontward. A second reclining seat is located to the right and shortly forward of table, facing frontward. A door covered with a red curtain and leading to another room is located at rear center of room. A second door covered with a red curtain and leading to a hallway is situated at left end center of room, while a third door covered with a red curtain leads to a hallway at right end center of room.

AT RISE: Joanna is lifting cloth which covered table of Passover feast as Mary Magdalene enters room through left center door and rapidly approaches her.


MARY MAGDALENE Oh, Joanna, I am so glad that you are still here! (eying Joanna carefully) Oh, I dread those tears!


JOANNA (brushing her eyes with hand) Please donít ask me about my red eyes. Let me tell you about the Passover feast.


MARY MAGDALENE (softly) Yes, Joanna dear, this is why I am here.


JOANNA It was beautiful and, yet, mysterious. (pause, as in reflection while folding cloth and lying it on table) After enjoying the lamb, our Lord and the Disciples had a second meal.


MARY MAGDALENE (puzzled) You mean there were two feasts?


JOANNA (nodding) The Disciples partook of bread and wine which our Lord had blessed and described as being his body and blood which was broken and shed for them. (wondering) A sense of mysticism seemed to be prevalent, I felt it. (pause) Have you experienced mysticism?


MARY MAGDALENE (in reflection) Yes, when our Lord healed me. Did the Disciples seem to understand what was taking place?


JOANNA (thoughtfully) I donít know. At the time, they were so enraptured with our Lord that nothing else seemed to matter.


MARY MAGDALENE (softly) Broken bread, broken body. Of late, our Lord has spoken much of his death. (She shakes her head in wonderment.)


JOANNA Our Lord commanded them to love one another. (pause, breaks into a sob) The beauty and tenderness faded. There was dreadful talk of betrayal.


MARY MAGDALENE (startled) Betrayal!


JOANNA (struggling to compose herself) Our Lord told the Disciples that one of them will betray him to the Sanhedrin and Roman authorities this very night!


MARY MAGDALENE (Her body falls limp into reclining seat, left of table, and she tearfully shakes her head in dismay. Then she breathes deeply.) Oh how he reads our hearts and minds! (pause) What was the reaction of the Disciples?


JOANNA (shaking her head) They were stunned! They were amazed! They agonized as each asked our Lord if he were the betrayer. As he gave them no answer, they inquired and argued among themselves. They seemed strangers to one another and to themselves.


MARY MAGDALENE (rising from her seat) The hour is late and the betrayal may have taken place. Do you know the destination of our Lord after the Passover meals?


JOANNA He asked the Disciples to pray with him in Gethsemane.


MARY MAGDALENE (restless) I shall await his leaving Gethsemane. I must hurry now! (She turns to leave upper room; but reverses when Joanna moans sharply.)


JOANNA (stressfully) A moment, please, Mary: I feel you should be aware of two other happenings of the evening. When Peter loudly declared that he would not do the betraying, our Lord, smiling tenderly and sorrowfully, informed him that he would deny his Lord before the crowing of the morning cock. (pause, breathing deeply) The other Disciples recoiled in horror, and our Lord whispered sharply to Judas Iscariot, and Judas quickly departed from the room. (throws her head about, breathlessly)


MARY MAGDALENE (wringing her hands) Judas! Judas! Judas!


JOANNA (pointedly) Do you suspect Judas Iscariot?


MARY MAGDALENE I am torn between thinking he is the betrayer, or that our Lord dispatched him on a special mission. But I must go now. Our Lord may be in the hands of the enemy. (turns again to leave) I must go!


JOANNA (desperately) Please, somehow get a message to me about what has happened to our Lord. I will be at home.

(exit through rear center door as Mary Magdalene approaches left center door, where she meets an entering, breathless Ben Air)


BEN AIR (gasping in breathing) The thing we dreaded most has come upon us!


MARY MAGDALENE (desperately resigned) Our Lord is in captivity! (She burst into weeping)


BEN AIR (embracing her) How hard it is to comfort another when your own heart is breaking.


MARY MAGDALENE (composing herself as she and Ben Air terminate their embrace and slowly walk together to front center of stage, facing forward) How did Judas betray our Lord?


BEN AIR Maybe I should be surprised that you are aware of Judas Iscariot as the betrayer, but somehow I am not. (pause) Our Lord prayed in Gethsemane for sometime. Upon leaving Gethsemane with Peter, James and John a squad of Roman soldiers placed Jesus under arrest. The soldiers were led by Judas Iscariot who (voice breaking) identified our Lord with a kiss.


MARY MAGDALENE (sadly and tenderly) To remember that Judas had such a loving relationship with our Lord.


BEN AIR At first I thought there would be a skirmish. Peter took his sword and cut off the ear of one of the soldiers.


MARY MAGDALENE (shaking her head) At the very end the Disciples are determined to see our Lord as a military Messiah.


BEN AIR Quickly, our Lord ordered Peter to put away his sword, and he then restored the soldierís ear. For a moment the soldiers were stunned by our Lordís action and wondered whether they had the right prisoner. James and John fled in terror.


MARY MAGDALENE Peter likewise?


BEN AIR No, Peter tried staying near our Lord, but when someone identified him as a follower of our Lord, Peter (pause in agony) denied knowing him and fled.


MARY MAGDALENE (shaking her head) And Judas?


BEN AIR When Judas Iscariot heard that our Lord was to be taken before Pilate he accused the Sanhedrin of breaking a vow he claimed it had made to him that no harm would come to our Lord. But representatives of the Sanhedrin scornfully laughed at him. Then an odd thing happened. He contemptuously threw thirty pieces of silver on the ground!


MARY MAGDALENE (nodding her head in reflection) This is indeed strange. I cannot believe that Judas betrayed our Lord for money. He could have received far more than thirty pieces of silver for delivering our Lord to the Sanhedrin.


BEN AIR So what do you believe was his motive for the betrayal?


MARY MAGDALENE He had grown very bitter over our Lordís refusal to be a military Messiah. Perhaps he wanted to have him silenced - not put to death (bursts into crying again).


BEN AIR (grimly) The Sanhedrin is taking him before Pilate for one-reason only..to facilitate his execution.


MARY MAGDALENE Do you know the whereabouts of Judas?


BEN AIR (slowing and deliberately) Judas Iscariot is dead - at his own hands. (a period of painful silence)


MARY MAGDALENE (passionately) He didnít have to die! Why didnít he seek out our Lord?


BEN AIR I hasten to add that Peter repented - didnít take his own life. But both he and Judas Iscariot are gravely guilty of disloyalty to our Lord.


MARY MAGDALENE The guilt of Judas is the greater. He betrayed our Lord out of pride, terrible pride in the tradition of Adam. Peter denied him out of fear for his life. Oh yes, the folly of Judas has likely hurt our Lord more than the denial of Peter. After all, he expected more from Judas. It is sad and ironic that the most eloquent, the most profound, the most boldly professor and defender of our Lordís message proved to be his betrayer. (pause) But Peter, Peter, (her face brightens) seventy times seven! You know you can count on our Lordís pardon and mercy!


BEN AIR (quickly) I hear Peter, James and John in the alley. I want to be gone when they arrive. (moves toward rear center door) I will leave by another route. (stops momentarily and turns toward Mary Magdalene) Shall we meet outside of Pilateís court in the morning?


MARY MAGDALENE I shall be with you, Ben Air!

(Ben Air exits and Peter, James and John enter through left center door and slowly approach Mary Magdalene who awaits them in center of room.)

I know what has happened. And I canít help wondering had our Lord succeeded in convincing the three of you of his true power and glory, and what he could accomplish through you he would not be facing death.

(Peter, James and John bow their heads. pause)

Why are you here?


PETER (as the three raise their heads) Please, Mary, our burden is great. We are leaving here to join the other Disciples in hiding as we are much sought after by the authorities. We came here to request that you keep us informed about what takes place at the trial.


MARY MAGDALENE (tenderly) I wonder, oh how I wonder what has happened to the courage you Disciples displayed when in dangerous situations with our Lord. And you vowed that you would die with him in Jerusalem.

(pause, as Peter, James and John exchange facial features of distress)

Why are you so certain that the authorities are not seeking me?


PETER (awkwardly) Well, you are a woman.


MARY MAGDALENE (furiously) Yes, a woman, and a very special woman; and may the heavens fall on you if you ever think otherwise! (pause) I am a woman who aroused the wrath of our Lordís enemies because of an abominable tradition broken, and a woman who joyously and closely followed our Lord. But you know I will be at his trial.


PETER (shaking his head) In our great despair each of us is sorry not to have been a true comrade to you, Mary.


JAMES We would never get near the trial. Even here we could be arrested at any moment.


JOHN Although distancing ourselves from you, Mary, we always admired your courage and loyalty, please believe me.


MARY MAGDALENE (smiling brightly) You may depend upon my bringing you revelations regarding our Lord. Above all, do not continue in despair, Yes, I foresee a trial, suffering and death, but beyond this there is a victory, a triumph which our Lord spoke of. I do not pretend to understand what is now a mystery, but my trust in him is as constant as the stars in their heavenly places. (pause) Now let us go our painful and separate ways.

(Peter, James and John bow gratefully toward Mary Magdalene and then exit through right center door. Mary Magdalene keeps watch toward them until they have exited, and then she proceeds to exit through left center door.)


CURTAIN


THE END


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The top picture is The Last Supper painted by Jacopo Bassano in 1542. The original oil-on-canvas is in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. The image was taken from the Web Gallery of Art whose images are for educational or private use only and not for distribution.
This page last updated on 12-28-2010.