Sons Of Thunder
Roll Back The Stone
Celebrating The Mystery Of Lent And Easter Through Drama
(John and Mary walk upstairs to platform. They walk as if weighted by their sorrow. They pause at Mary's "door," in front of a wooden bench)
Mary: Thank you, John. (Shakes her head in disappointment about the others) You're the only one ... who stayed.
John: I will do what he said, Mary. I'll be your son, and take care of you just as (Voice breaks) he would have done himself.
Mary: I know you will. (Looks at John) I still think I'm going to see him, somehow, as if none of this really happened. I half expect him to walk over and shake his head at me for not understanding, again.
John: (In a strangled voice) There's a lot I don't understand. He tried to tell us so many things, these last few days ... I can't even remember what all he said, much less what it meant. (With pent-up anger) If only I could understand why this had to happen. (Looks down, trying to conceal his tears)
Mary: (Gently blots his tears, speaks softly) When you understand ... will you tell me?
John: (Hoarsely, looks in Mary's face) You will be the first, Mother.
(Mary touches John's cheek with her hand and wipes away his tears. He puts his hands on her forearms in both pledge and care. They exchange a mournful gaze, then Mary turns and trudges through the door on the pulpit side. John paces fretfully, leans against a wall and suddenly pounds it with his fist. He turns his face upward in anguish and cries out in anger against Jesus for abandoning his little band of believers)
John: Why did you have to die? How could you leave us like this? You promised to make us fishers of men -- but you let yourself get caught in the Pharisees' nets! And for what? What? (Strides around the platform like a caged animal. Occasionally, he raises his arms in as he rails at Jesus)
It just doesn't make any sense to me. What was all this for, anyway? Why go to the trouble? Why did you heal those sick people and spend all that time preaching, just to be hung on a cross like a common criminal? (Ends of up front of the bench. Pounds a fist into his other hand, glares heavenward, demanding an answer)
I want to know why! (Settles into the bench with a heavy sigh. He looks heavenward, then leans his arms against his thighs and buries his face in his hands. He shakes with sobs)
(James enters furtively from side aisle near pulpit. He's been looking for John while trying to evade the Pharisees and Roman soldiers. He sees John, approaches joyfully at first, then, hesitantly, unsure of how John will receive him. James walks up the steps, stands to one side of the bench. John, his face down, still does not see James)
(John slowly raises his head from his hands. He looks at James with no expression)
James: (Approaches slowly) It's ... over?
John: (Bitterly) Yes, "It is finished." Those were his final words, James. But, you wouldn't know that, would you? You and all the others ran off the minute Judas came with the temple guards. (Turns away from James)
James: (His quick temper flares) There you go again! All my life you've thought you were the best -- and then told me about it over and over again. (Kicks at unseen trash on the ground) Maybe you need to have a little sense knocked into you! Those guards would've taken in every one of us as traitors, and had us killed, too.
John: (Antagonized) I was there, James. You, and Peter, and all the rest ... weren't. Nowhere to be found. Gone. Van ...
James: (Cuts John off) I get the picture. You weren't exactly out in the open, though, were you? So don't brag to me about being the only one with him! (Aggressively leans toward John's face and shoves his shoulder)
(John jumps up, shoves James. James responds. Just as the scuffle seems about to escalate into a fist fight, John shakes his head as if in pain, makes a dismissing gesture and sits back down)
John: (His voice is hollow, defeated) It's not worth fighting about. For the first time in my life, I don't feel like fighting about anything. I just ... hurt. (Sinks back into the bench, ignoring James)
(James props one leg on opposite end of the bench and leans over. They remain in silence for a long moment. John again lowers his head into his hands)
James: Y'know, John, this isn't like anything else we've been through. We really need to pull together.
John: (Doesn't answer for a moment, then looks up with a mournful grin) I guess even the "Sons of Thunder" could stop thundering and ... act like brothers. (Stands with his arms stretched toward James)
(James stands, and they embrace. They both weep for Christ. They pull apart, wiping their tears, and sit back down on the bench)
James: It must've been awful, watching him ... die.
John: (Nods, tortured by the memory) Trust the Romans to come up with the most horrible way to kill a man. (Pauses, overcome by grief and anger. His voice is choked when he resumes) When the soldier thrust that spear into his side, and the water gushed out, I knew it was over ... I've never known darkness that black. Never. (Shakes his head and sighs deeply)
James: But, how did the Romans even get involved? What do they care about Jesus? All his arguments were with the Pharisees.
John: Oh, but our great high priest told the council that if they didn't do something about Jesus, the Romans would take away the power of the council. (Shakes his head miserably) They've been looking for an excuse to kill him ever since he raised Lazarus from the dead.
James: (Grimly) And Judas gave them exactly what they needed.
John: (Anger boils up again) Ahhh, that traitor. I never understood why Jesus invited him to join the group. And Jesus knew Judas was going to betray him, James. He said so at our Passover meal. (Furious with himself for not acting on the knowledge, with Judas for his betrayal, and with Jesus for letting it happen)
I should've killed the coward on the spot. Why did I just let him walk out when Jesus said, "What you do, do quickly." None of this had to happen! Hmmm. Where is Judas?
James: I've heard he went back to the priests, and they laughed at him. No one's really seen him since that night in the garden.
John: And they won't, if I see him first. How about that other traitor, Peter? (Mocking tone of voice) "The Rock," who denied that he even knew Jesus?
James: Well, we all found each other, eventually, and we've been together in the room where we had Passover. Peter came later, but he won't say anything to anyone, or eat, or do anything but stare at the wall and (Hesitates, uncertain whether to tell John) ... sometimes cry.
John: Is he there now? I'll rip his heart out for denying he knew Jesus!
James: (Pulls on John's arm) Hey, slow down. We all need each other, even more now that Jesus is gone. (Leans toward John, speaks confidentially) Believe me, Peter is suffering a lot, reliving what he did. If you killed him, you'd just relieve his pain.
John: (Grimly) I wouldn't want to do that. Let him suffer. (Turns to James) Y'know, I can't take any more of this. All these things we can't understand, all the sorrow. Let's go back to the boats, James, to do what we know. Father never understood why we just walked off and left the business, we could ...
James: (Touches John's arm) Maybe in a few days. Right now, well, I think the others need to hear what you have to say.
John: (Stubbornly) They could've been there, too.
James: (Impatience flares) But we weren't, John. (His tone and demeanor soften) For whatever reasons, we weren't. And if Jesus taught us anything at all, it was to love one another, just the way he loved us ... (Emphasizes) Jesus would show compassion.
John: (Looks at James ruefully) I wish you hadn't listened to him so well.
James: (He's grasped a concept that eludes many Christians, says with a little smile) I did, though, and although there are lots of things I don't understand about what's happened, or why, I do know what Jesus wants us to do -- right now.
(James stands and walks a few steps, while John sits. James turns and holds out his arm. John stands; they embrace and walk up the aisle together)