The following is a series of scenes, each from the perspective of one who encountered Jesus along the way to the cross.
Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
Scene 1 : a garden
Jn 18.10 [Peter] I must defend my Lord!
What we’ve known is changing, our world is about to end. Impulsively we attempt to defend what we know. Jesus, the Messiah, the anointed one has come from God. Did he not just tell us he is to be glorified? Yet here stands before us a very great threat. They will take my Lord away. Yet he’s willing to go with them—and more, he healed the enemy, just as he did for the sick, the dying, the outcasts. Who is this man?
Scene 2 : in the court of the high priest
Jn 18.19 [Caiaphas to Jesus] It is a grave thing to claim equality with the Lord.
The prophets tell us there is only one Messiah who will come to restore God’s people to their rightful place. Do you really claim to be him? Who do you think you are with your band of ‘pupils’, spreading wild lies about healing people and feeding multitudes?
Scene 3 : outside the court
Jn 18.26 [a slave to Peter] Did I not see you in the garden with him?
No! No, I do not know him! I am not a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. I’m just here keeping warm, as you are. Yes, I’ve heard the stories about him, and I’ve heard what he claimed to be…but, I do not know him. He’s in the court room now? I’m just curious as to what they’ll decide to do with him. How could anyone claim to be the Lord?
Scene 4 : at the Roman headquarters of Pilate
Jn 18.38 [Pilate to Jesus] What is truth?
You speak of kingdoms and other worlds, of being born into this world to testify to…what? Is there anything greater than this world, this cosmos? Humanity has gone to the corners of the earth, and we keep going. What more can there be outside of what we know? And with all the complexities and ways that we encounter the world, how can there be one truth? Are you the one to speak on behalf of all truth?
Scene 5 : Jesus with the Roman soldiers
Jn 19.3 [soldiers to Jesus] Hail, King of the Jews!
There is no king but Caesar, you delusional fool! If you claim to have a kingdom, where is it? We cannot see it, does it exist? Here, let us help you with a crown and robes. You’re just like others of your kind—thinking you have say outside your little courts and provincial towns. You people are nothing. Your god is powerless.
Scene 6 : Jesus with Pilate
Jn 19.9 [Pilate to Jesus] Where are you from?
You are evidently very great, Jesus. No one could be so calm, responding as you do in the face of such peril. I have met many great men, the wisest of philosophers, the most powerful magistrates. Yet none compare to you. You must be a king, though I know not from where. You appear as a Galilean, yet your own people are the very ones who wish to kill you. They claim that if I do not order you killed, that I (an agent of the empire) am a traitor to Caesar. Jesus, you must be King of the Jews.
Scene 7 : Jesus crucified
Jn 19.18 [the other criminals on either side of Jesus] What crime have you done?
I know it was theft and murder that brought me here, but what did you do, king of the Jews? Did I not hear of you healing lepers? Did I not hear of you feeding the hungry? Who are you, that they raised you here with us? Were you planning a coup? To overthrow the Romans? Why are you suffering, Jesus the Nazorean? If you are who they say you are, man of God, please pray for me.
Scene 8 : Jesus’ mother and John
Jn 19.26 [Jesus to his mother] Woman, here is your son.
My son, I knew God had made you for a purpose, but I could not have dreamed it led here. My first child, my little Joshua. I will honor your final request, and treat John as my own. My son, my son, my son…
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.