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On Trial

K Fitzgerald 1997

Setting: Modern Courtroom although the date is around 40AD. Set it up so that the Judges bench is facing the audience, the witness box is on the left or right facing center and the Jury is the audience itself. Attorney is on stage seated as is the Bailiff. Bailiff Stands

BAILIFF: All Rise (Waits while everyone gets up) This court is now in session, the Honorable Judge Wilkes presiding.

JUDGE: Please be seated, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury welcome to this pre trial hearing regarding the Last days of one (Checking Papers) Jesus of Nazareth. This is a pre trial hearing only where we will determine the direction this case is taking and we will set a trial date for a later period in the year. Today you will hear from 3 prominent figures in the events surrounding Jesusí death, each will give a short testimony of the events Counselor Hamilton will introduce each witness and sum up the case at the end.. As this is the pre Trial hearing I will remind the counselor to keep things Brief. Is that Understood Counselor?

COUNSELLOR: Yes your honor

JUDGE: Very well then you may proceed with your opening statement.

COUNSELLOR: (Crosses to the center of the floor, composes himself/herself and begins) Ladies and Gentlemen, today you will hear some preliminary statements from Eyewitnesses to the death of the Nazarene, this is pretty normal for a hearing such as this..........many of these hearings are held every week in this very courtroom. But this hearing is a little different. It is not the accusedís crime that is under scrutiny. It is well documented that Jesus of Nazareth was executed by the Jews for Blasphemy, or impersonating a Deity if you will. The reasons for his execution are quite clear so they are not on trial, what is on trial is the Identity of the Accused.

Jesus, called the Christ, claimed to be "The son of God". People here today are willing to testify to Him being a fraud, others will testify he was insane and still others that he is the Authentic Son of God. Ladies and Gentlemen, after the evidence has been presented you will be asked to decide from the evidence, which is the truth. Was Jesus the Savior of the world? Was he a Cunning con man, or was he certifiably insane? This decision of who you say he is, is yours alone.

Your Honor, if it would please the court I would like to call Caiphus to the stand.

Caiphus rises and proceeds to the Witness Box. Apon arriving he places hand on Bible to take the oath

BALIF: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?

CAIPHUS: As always

BALIF: Be Seated

COUNSELLOR: Please state your name and position for the court.

CAIPHUS: I am Caiphus, a Pharisee of Pharisees and High priest of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.

COUNSELLOR: Sir, did you know the accused?

CAIPHUS: That scoundrel the Nazarene? Yes, I knew him, not personally of course. As a Pharisee I take special care to be away from unclean or unholy things as much as possible.

COUNSELLOR: Of course. Would you please give the court your opinion of the man?

CAIPHUS: Of the Nazarene? Well thereís really nothing to say. He was a common liar and troublemaker who was given what he deserved under the Law of Rome. Pity his followers did not also receive their punishment but I have my best man, Saul of Tarsus working on that side of things.

COUNSELLOR: Sir, you refer to Jesus as a liar and troublemaker, yet he claimed to be the son of God and your king.

CAIPHUS: (Standing and screaming) Lies and falsehood!! Blasphemous Lies!!! (Re-Gains Composure) the Nazarene was Jew who refused to live by the Jewish Law and traditions .

COUNSELLOR: Such as what parts of the Law

CAIPHUS: Our law states that if a man makes himself to be equal to god he is to be put to death. This Jesus Character had been claiming to be Gods son and Claiming to forgive sins, which we know only God can do. He spread these lies all over the country inciting riots and violence everywhere he went. He carried on like this for a total of 3 years.

COUNSELLOR: So why didnít you bring him before the courts sooner?

CAIPHUS: We had to wait for the right moment, when he would be alone and trusting. I donít need to tell you that a cunning customer like that can be very difficult to capture

COUNSELLOR: In the end, how did you catch this man and expose him as a fraud?

CAIPHUS: Actually we were helped by an unlikely ally, I shall suppress his details except to say the price I paid, 30 silver coins, was more than worth it. After we had the rogue in custody I called an immediate gathering of the Sanhedrin where we trialed the Nazarene under our law. The man even tried to convince us of his lies by claiming to be the son of god, even under oath!! That was enough for me, I was so mad I tore my best ceremonial robe and one of my officials struck him on the face. The rest is history, the Romans tried him and then by popular pressure he was taken to be crucified and our dear brother Barrabas was released.

COUNSELLOR: Dear brother Barabas? Surely you donít mean the murderer and inciter of last months riots?

CAIPHUS: Totally unsubstantiated claims my dear counselor, Barabas is a kind gentle man (Evil Snigger) Under our law he was innocent

COUNSELLOR: And Jesus?

CAIPHUS: Miss Hamilton, We have a Law. This law has been passed down for generations and was handed to us by the living God himself. This Jesus claimed to be the son of God and under this law he must be put to death!. The law has been observed, Justice has been done.

COUNSELLOR: So in your opinion, Jesus could not have been who he claimed to be?

CAIPHUS: No, The true messiah will come in fantastic power and crush the Roman dogs who have enslaved our people to their laws. He will set up the rule of God and his people forever. As you can see, the Nazarene did not do any of these things.

COUNSELLOR: So was he Mad

CAIPHUS: Definitely not!! It takes a particularly fiendish mind to concoct a lie like that and make others actually believe it. , No he was a genius, even his words show him to be of sound mind and high morals. He was a liar. A brilliant one, but a liar all the same.

COUNSELLOR: (Turning to Judge) Your honor and members of the Jury, There are many who are willing to testify along similar lines to Caiphus, some of whom testified at the Sanhedrin trial. Your honor, this witness is excused and I would like the Honorable Pontius Pilate to take the stand.

Pontius Pilate Rises and goes to the dock. The bailiff brings the bible

BALIF: do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?

PILATE: I do not swear by your inferior God But I will be truthful For Caesar, and the Glory of Rome. (He sits)

COUNSELLOR: Please state your name and occupation for the court.

PILATE: I am Pontius Pilate, Pro-consul of Jerusalem appointed by Caesar Augustus.

COUNSELLOR: And you knew the accused?

PILATE: I met him on 2 occasions, the first was after the Jews had finished with him and they sent him to me as they were not permitted to kill a man.

COUNSELLOR: What took place in that first meeting?

PILATE: Jesus stood before me looking a little worse for wear. He'd obviously been up all night and had been rather mistreated. There was a cut under his eye and a lot of facial bruising from being struck on the face I assume. Caiphus and some of the Priests were there bringing their charges to me. I listened to them and then Took Jesus into my Private office so that I could ask the man himself what he had to say.

COUNSELLOR: What did he say?

PILATE: This is the puzzling thing, he said nothing. He must have been crazy!! I am a fair man and quite frankly I could not believe all the things the Jews were saying. This man had been living in my area for 30 years and I'd never even heard his name, he couldn't be that much of a troublemaker. He had no arrests, no previous charges. All he had to do was to show to me that he as innocent and he would have been free.

COUNSELLOR: And he couldn't?

PILATE: No, he wouldn't. He stood silent before me. I kept asking Questions of him but He wouldnít answer them, except for once when I asked him " Are you the King of the Jews?"

COUNSELLOR: And he replied?

PILATE: He replied "Yes, It is as you say"

CAIPHUS: See, more Blasphemy!! He deserved to die as a dog!!

(Judge beats with gavel)

JUDGE: Silence in the court

COUNSELLOR: Sorry Pilate, do continue

PILATE: Actually thereís not a lot more to tell. I tried him, Had him flogged, which incidentally was particularly brutal. I donít know what got into my men that day but they beat him up pretty badly. And then, because I could find no reason to have him killed I presented him before the people.

COUNSELLOR: To which they responded?

PILATE: Crucify him!! In one voice they screamed it over and over until I feared a riot in the streets. I told them that I would not be guilty of this mans blood, it would be on their heads and I washed my hands of the whole affair.

COUNSELLOR: So sir, in your opinion, was Jesus Christ crazy?

PILATE: Absolutely! He stood before a man who had the power to have him killed or totally quash the charges against him and he refused to speak out in his own defense. Yet this was obviously not just pig headed martyrdom, He was calm and serious......He really did believe he was the son of God. He was either self delusional or an authentic whacko!!

COUNSELLOR: So should he have died?

PILATE: No, not in my opinion. I believe he should have been given a room in one of our best sanitariums where he could have walked on water and preached to the rubber walls until his heart was content. After all, he may have been strange but hardly dangerous.

COUNSELLOR: Thank you pro-consul. (Turning to Judge) Your honor, the last testimony I would like to present today is that of another Roman. An ex soldier named Bob who was on duty at the Crucifixion scene.

JUDGE: Very well then counselor, Call your witness.

BOB: Donít worry, Iím here and more than willing to testify (he bounds up to the Witness Box, The Bailiff presents the bible)

BAILIFF: Sir do you swear to tell this court the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?

BOB: By the name of Jesus Christ and the words of the living God I do.

BAILIFF: Please be seated

COUNSELLOR: Bob would you please explain to the court your former position and how you came to be in contact with the accused?

BOB: Without hesitation. I was a roman soldier who was sent by pilate as a precautionary measure to supervise the Crucifixion of Jesus and two thieves on the day before the Jewish Passover. This was not an unusual duty, I had been involved in many crucifixions before.......I was never the same afterwards though.

COUNSELLOR: Bob, can you recall the events of that day?

BOB: Yes Maam I can. We had just finished the hardest part of the crucifixions, the prisoners had been stripped, bound to the wooden beams and the nails had been hammered in. Then we had lifted the crosses up and dropped then into the holders in the rock. All that was left for us was the waiting. Crucifixions are noisy and messy but on the most part they are a waiting game, once the prisoners are up you wait until they are dead and then you pull them down again. That day there were more people on the hill than normal. For the first two hours the usual things went on, the crowd hurled abuse and objects at the criminals, most of it was directed at this Jesus fellow. Funilly enough he didnít curse back like the others usually do. there was no threats to haunt them, no look of vengeance, in fact if I didnít know better Iíd have thought he was in love with those people. After the two hours the crowd began to disperse. Myself and three other guards engaged in a game of dice to see who would get that undergarment that Jesus had been wearing.

COUNSELLOR: Iím sorry?? Did you say you gambled for his clothing?

BOB: Oh sure, We do it quite a bit. It beats the boredom of waiting and if youíre lucky you can walk away with some pretty neat stuff.

COUNSELLOR: (Noise of disgust) Ugh, please continue

BOB: Well, around 3 in the afternoon it got really dark all of the sudden. There were no storm clouds or anything, it was just like the sun refused to shine on that god forsaken hill. I got a little scared and grabbed my spear. It remained dark for a couple of hours and then Jesus yelled out " It is finished" and stopped breathing. then the earth shook really violently, which really got my heart racing, and they say that a huge tearing sound could be heard coming from the Jewish temple. (he pauses as if it was really happening)

COUNSELLOR: and then what?

BOB: And then the sun came out again, the world was still and all was at peace. It was eerie and silent............I was stunned............I looked up at the man whose death had made the world rebel and I said words which have had me removed from the roman army.

COUNSELLOR: What did you say?

BOB: Surely this man was the Son of God

COUNSELLOR: Do you still hold to those words Bob

BOB: Yes Maam, and Iím not the only one. Along with hundreds of Jews I found some Greeks, some people from distant lands, even my old centurion whose daughter had been miraculously healed, testify to the fact that Jesus Christ is who he said he is, The son of the most High God.

(Both Caiphus and Pilate react accordingly and the judge Raps the gavel)

COUNSELLOR: Bob, thank you for coming in today.

BOB: Thank you for the opportunity Maam. (he steps down)

JUDGE: I would suggest you begin your closing remarks Counselor

COUNSELLOR: Yes sir. Ladies and Gentleman of the jury you have heard the testimonies today of three men. All of sound mind, all of great integrity and all affected by the life of one individual whose identity is the subject in question. Jesus Christ, The Nazarene, the king of the Jews. Who was this man? Was he who he claimed to be? The lord of life, the son of God and Savior of the world? Was he a Maniacal egotist, Concocting a story to win the adoration of common street folk only to end up in hot water because of the story he created? Was he a lunatic? A poor mentally Ill carpenter whose delusional stories made the wrong people mad and got him punishment instead of treatment. Or was he something else altogether? These are the questions that lay within your hands, and stand to change the course of this case.........and maybe even your life itself. So now I leave you with the Question. Who do you say Jesus is? Lord? Liar? or Lunatic?.

 

End Of Play

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