Tag Archives: Peter

A Good Friday Scene for Two Actors

Judas and Peter

by Josh Gaudreau

 (scene opens in a tableau.  We see Peter sitting on the steps, untangling some fishing net in his hands.  Judas is standing close by on the stage, his hand on the bridge of his nose as if he has a headache.  There is a rope at his feet.  Once the scene begins, the actors should not freeze again, even when they don’t have lines. They should not acknowledge each other at all; these are two monologues playing concurrently.  Judas sighs a deep breath, then begins:)

Judas (very distraught throughout): I didn’t think they were going to kill him!  I just wanted them to… I just wanted… I couldn’t help myself!  It wasn’t my fault, really!  (angry) Thirty pieces of silver.  They give me thirty pieces of silver, and then condemn him to death?  It wasn’t supposed to be that way!

Peter (melancholic throughout):  Knives piercing my heart were those words he spoke.  Deny him three times?  How could I do that?  Never, Lord!  And yet, I did…and, I don’t know why.  When I saw him, the way they were treating him, I got scared.  I would die for you! I told him.  I even went to protect him in the garden, but he told me to put away my sword.  I can face a fight, even a losing one, but to just give up… I couldn’t face that.  So I ran.

Judas (almost pleading): Why did he choose me, anyway?  Couldn’t he see what was in my heart?  What’s always been there?  I didn’t want that though.  I wanted to be different, I wanted to be free!  I wanted him to make me free… but he didn’t.  Greed, festering like a monster deep within my heart.  Doubts plaguing my thoughts, (angry:) while those other three seemed so sure of themselves.  Maybe if he’d favored me like he did them I wouldn’t’ve been like this.  Yeah, maybe then I wouldn’t’ve done what I did.

Peter:  We all ran.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way, was it?  Wasn’t he the Son of God?  Wasn’t he the Messiah we’ve been waiting for?  Wasn’t he going to change the world?  We all ran away… but I was the only one who’d promised I wouldn’t.  And then I heard the rooster crow… I heard it crow, and in that instant I remembered what he’d said, and… I wanted to die.  I couldn’t take it back… What kind of man am I?

Judas (cold anger): He didn’t have to rebuke me like that, either.  Not in front of everyone.  Not for why he did.  (getting worked up as he says this line, with a slight mocking:) “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God”, he said.  “Give all you have to the poor and you will be perfect,” he said.  “When you throw a feast invite the poor,” he said, and yet when that whore pours out a fortune’s worth of perfume on his feet, he rebukes me instead of her!  (pause as he composes himself. Fawning:) “Master,” I said, “this perfume could’ve been sold for a lot of money and given to the poor.”  (angry again:) You know what he replied?  “Be quiet, because she’s done a beautiful thing to me.”  He actually said that! (he picks up the rope, and begins to worry it in his hands)

Peter:  What kind of man am I?  To see what I’ve seen, his miracles, his signs… To feel what I’ve felt… To know what I know and yet still I wasn’t strong enough!  ‘Petros,’ he called me, ‘on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  On what rock?  My heart is worse than shifting sand, and the gates of hell have prevailed in me!  Augh!  (slight pause, calmer:)  No, no.  Not yet.  Not completely.

Judas:  Thirty pieces of silver to betray a man to death.  I didn’t mean for it to be that way.  (slight pause) That look in his eyes when I met him…

Peter (following Judas’ line quickly):  I never meant to deny him, but in that moment, when they accused me, said I was with him, I…I panicked.  I loved my life more…

Judas (following Peter’s line quickly): That sound in his voice when he asked “do you betray me with a kiss?”

Peter (following Judas’ line quickly):  And then he looked at me.  The cock crowed, and he looked at me, and I saw the hurt in his eyes…

Judas and Peter (following Peter’s line quickly):  What have I done…

(pause)

Judas (hopeless): What choice do I have now?  I can’t… I can’t… (with self-hatred, looking at the rope:) Judas, you dog, you monster, what you are about to do, go and do quickly! (he exits with the rope)

Peter:  I failed him. (with hope:) I failed him then, but not again.  He is the Messiah, and even though he is gone… But, what will I do now?  (pause.  He suddenly looks offstage, as if noticing other people, then looks down at the net, and then back offstage. Calling towards offstage as he exits with the net:) Brothers, brothers!  Let’s go catch some fish.

(lights out)

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Breakfast with Jesus? Bring Some Fish

During Jesus’ last post-resurrection encounter with the disciples in the book of John, he gives them two invitations which display beautifully the heart of God.

First, some context, though:

Peter, in John 18, denies Jesus while warming himself around a charcoal fire. He does it three times when accused, and after the third a rooster crows fulfilling Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial in John 13:38. What guilt he must have felt, what shame! In the moment he fears for his own life more than he cares for his master, his friend.

Later, in Galilee, Peter declares to the other disciples that he is going fishing which the fishermen in the group decide to join him in. And there, on the beach near where their boat is, is Jesus. Peter is so excited to see Jesus that he literally throws himself into the water and splashes to shore. Where he sees a charcoal fire burning, with some fish already on it.

I wonder if the smell from the fire triggered his memory, back to that day in the courtyard when he denied Jesus? I wonder if he felt shame temper his excitement?

And here is where the encounter becomes beautiful to me: Jesus doesn’t bring it up at all (he will later, though, in verses 15-19), instead he gives Peter and the others two invitations: “Bring some of the fish you have just caught,” and “Come and have breakfast.”

“Bring some of your fish”

This invitation is an invitation to participate. Jesus already had a fire going with fish on it, he doesn’t need the disciple’s freshly caught fish at all. But he invites them to contribute too. This is an invitation of acceptance and inclusion.

And it’s an invitation that God extends to all of us, to participate in his work in this world (see Eph. 2:10). He doesn’t need us at all, frankly, but he desires to include us. He wants us to do it with him, and makes space for us to do it.

“Come have breakfast”

This is an invitation to fellowship, to communion. Jesus is saying “be with me.” Jesus wants to spend time with the disciples enjoying their company, as much as he wants them to enjoy his. And so it is with us too. We tend to think of God as “up there” and we are “down here,” both spatially and hierarchically, and he really is farther above us than we could ever understand. But he is also here with us, God Immanuel, surrounding and encompassing and filling us, and just as he wants us to be a part of his work here on earth, he also wants to be involved in our lives – from the mundane things like doing chores, driving or taking public transit, shaving, and even pooping; to the less mundane like working, raising children, having hobbies, and being in relationships.

Friend of Sinners

friend-of-sinners

The thing to remember about these two invitations of Jesus, “participate with me” and “be with me,” is that he gave them to Peter before Peter was ‘restored,’ that is, before Jesus confronted Peter with his denial and desertion at Jesus’ arrest. He dealt gently with Peter, which really characterized his life – gentle and kind with the broken and oppressed, the trodden on and ‘sinners,’ and angry with the religious hypocrites who considered themselves ‘righteous’ in their own right. So much so, that those righteous called Jesus a “friend of sinners.” They meant it derogatorily, but Jesus really was a friend of sinners.

Which is good news, because I am a sinner. Even as someone who desires to follow Jesus and his teachings, I still sin, even willingly sometimes. We all do. It doesn’t mean that Jesus is cool with it or permissive about it (he asked one time “why do you call me Master but do not do what I tell you to do?” Luke 6:46). But it does mean that as we in repentance turn to him, he doesn’t meet us with a brandished hickory switch, leather belt, or wet hand. Instead he meets us with a plate of bacon and eggs and a bowl of warm oatmeal.

“Participate with me. Be with me.” These are the invitations of Jesus, and these invitations are for us. Whether you know Jesus or not, he is inviting you, to be a part of his family and his work on this earth.

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