Matthew 21:1-11, Sunday Morning Live: A Palm Sunday drama

Adapted by Ana Gobledale, UK, with permission from author, Ron VandenBurg, Canada*

The drama can stand alone.

Optionally, using the bookends of an introduction, conclusion and prayer, provides an entire message/sermon.

Cast

  • Simon the scribe: a reporter for Jerusalem Broadcast News; serious, professional, holds a prop microphone
  • Phoebe: an informal acquaintance of Simon.
  • Marion:  companion of Phoebe
  • Tony:  a friend of Phoebe
  • Camera person — Simon’s assistant: holding camera
  • Jesus

Script

Simon:           [enters with energy, ready to tell the story unfolding in front of him.]

Camera person:  [Follows Simon in.]   Camera’s rolling.  We are live!

Simon:           [ Face the congregation, which is the crowd.]

This is Simon, scribe, for Jerusalem Broadcast News,

reporting live from the Mount of Olives,

where we have some late-breaking news. . . .

Phoebe:         [enters casually]  Hey, Simon.  What are you up to?

Simon:           [temporarily thrown off]   Hi Phoebe.

Phoebe:         These are my friends Marion and Tony.

Simon:           Hi.  Shhh.  We are broadcasting live.

Phoebe:         Sorry.  What’s the big news?

Simon           [with renewed energy, looking back into the camera]

There is great excitement here today.

A large crowd has gathered near the Mount of Olives. . . .

Marion:         Sounds exciting.  That’s where we have just come from.

Simon:           [does his best to ignore Phoebe ]

Here today near the Mount of Olives,

a large crowd has gathered in preparation

for the day all the Jews have been waiting for.

We have heard reports that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem.

This follows the unconfirmed reports from Bethany

that Jesus raised someone from the dead.  It’s …

Tony:              That was Lazarus.

Simon:           Pardon me?

Marion:         Lazarus.  The person raised from the dead by Jesus.

His name is Lazarus.  We saw it.  We were there.

Simon:           . . . since the confirmed reports [Phoebe nods]

that Jesus has raised a recently deceased man, named Lazarus,

[looks to Phoebe and Marion and Tony, who nod]

from the dead.

This is a great day for Jerusalem indeed,

for it looks like Jesus of Nazareth will come forward this very day,

and proclaim his kingship over all of Judea.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen.

Today we will have a new king.

No more foreign rulers!  No more Romans. . . .

Phoebe:        [shakes head]   Nope. You have it wrong.

Simon:           . . . no more Pontius Pilate, no more Caesar.

Tony:             [shakes his head]   Nope.  Uh-huh.

Simon:           [losing it] What do you mean, Uh-uh?

Phoebe:         Jesus is not going to be that kind of king.

Simon:           That is ridiculous.  What other kinds of kings are there?

Once Jesus becomes king, he will unite all the people.

And we will create an army,

that will thrust the Roman dogs out of our land.

Marion:         Sorry.  But he is not that kind of king.

He is more like a servant, than a king.

Simon:           [to camera operator]  Stop rolling.

Camera person:   Okay [Lower camera]

Simon:           [to Phoebe etal]  What are you talking about?

Look at all the people!

How could a servant develop such interest, such a following?

They want Jesus to rule.

Phoebe:         More like a healer and a teacher.

Simon:           Yes, we all know Jesus has healed many.

And as a wise man he has taught us . . .

Tony: To turn the other cheek.

Simon:           What’s that?

Tony:  To turn the other cheek.

Phoebe:         Tony is right.

Jesus says, “If someone strikes you on one cheek,

turn to him, or her, the other cheek also.

If someone takes your cloak,

do not stop them from taking your tunic.”

Marion:         Don’t think that will work to overthrow the Romans.

We all know how cold and cruel those monstrous Romans are!

Can you imagine someone saying to a Roman,

[then, full of sarcasm]

‘Here, oppressor of my people, you want my cloak?

How about my tunic, too?!”

Simon:           Wait a minute.  Seriously.

The plan is for Jesus to be the ruler, like a real king,

and to change things for the better.

Like those crucifixions?!  Look over there. [points]

They are setting up more posts, more crosses,

ready for the next batch of crucifixions.

We need to stop that horrible practice.

Caesar and Pilate seem to revel in torturing others –

seeing anyone they do not like suffer.

Jesus, as our new ruling monarch, will stop crucifixions straight away.

That’s something to look forward to.  [Pause thoughtfully.]

I have to cover this story.  [Turn back to camera] 

Camera person:  Three.  Two.  One.  Rolling.

Simon:           We can see Jesus now.  Look at that!

People are laying down their cloaks on the road, for him to walk on!

[to Phoebe & Marion]   Now, that is an act of royal homage.

Tony:              Of what?

Simon:            Homage. You know—respect, honour.

Tony:              Got it.

Simon:           The whole crowd is waving palm branches as a preview

of the great military victories to come.

Marion:         Everybody, wave your palm fronds for the camera!

Tony & Phoebe:  [Wave palm in your hand]

Simon:           [with feeling] Just like for a King!

Tony :             What is Jesus riding on?

Marion:         It looks like a donkey’s colt.

Phoebe:         That fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah:

“Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion.

See, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”

Simon:           See! You said it yourself! “The king is coming.”

[face back to the camera]

The crowd is swelling.  Palm branches everywhere.

They are proclaiming the new king, the new royal ruler.

Some are shouting, “Hosanna.

Marion:         Everybody, that’s you!  Wave your palm fronds!

Tony & Phoebe:  [Wave palm in your hand]

Simon:           “Hosanna.  Blessed is the king who comes in the name of Love and Hope!”

Did you hear that?  “Blessed is the king of Israel!”

[getting more excited] Yes, indeed, this is the day of Love and Hope,

where all Judea will be victorious over its enemies,

just like in the time of old with King David.

Today we are witnessing the fulfilment of God’s covenant promise!

Phoebe:         That’s true, but . . .

Simon:           [to the camera]  Jesus seems to be quite overcome by the scene.

Marion:         Jesus seems to be weeping,

as if what he sees in Jerusalem makes him sad.

Simon:           [aside] That’s not very kingly.

[back to reporting] Jesus, pressed by the mob is looking around,

seems to be taking in all the grandeur of Jerusalem.

I think he is about to speak.

Jesus:             [Start walking onto scene.]

Camera person Simon, I need you to ID again, please.

Simon:           [to camera]  Simon, here, scribe with Jerusalem Broadcast News.

We are near the Mount of Olives,

listening in to what may be the coronation speech of our ruler, our next king,

Jesus of Nazareth.

Let’s listen in.

Everyone:   [Eyes get big as you listen to Jesus…look amazed!]

Jesus            ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day

the things that make for peace! …

But now they are hidden from your eyes….

Indeed, the days will come upon you, …

when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you,…

and hem you in on every side….

They will crush you to the ground,…

you and your children within you, …

and they will not leave within you one stone upon another;…

because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from the Eternal One.’

Simon:           Well, there you have it.  The words of our future king.

Yes, this is a great start to the Passover celebration.

The streets littered with clothing and palm branches.

As the feast continues, the crowd may play an important role

in the upcoming events of this week.

Join me throughout this Holy Week, here on JBC,

as we follow Jesus of Nazareth,

contender for King of the Jews and maybe of all Rome!

This is Simon, in Jerusalem, signing off.

[Turn away from crowd.]

Camera person:  [Lower camera]

That did not sound like much of a coronation speech, to me.

Simon          Yeah, a bit cryptic.

Did we miss something?

He does not sound like he is going to overthrow the Romans.

But all these people waving palm fronds,

they can’t be wrong.

He must be the Messiah.  He must be our new King!

Surely he will change people’s lives.

Phoebe        That is what we have been trying to tell you.

He will change people’s lives.  But not in the way you expect.

Tony:             Jesus is different.  He will not be your ordinary monarch.

Marion:         We are in for some surprises over the next few days.

Things are not what you think!

Everyone:     Freeze.  Count to 5.  Sit down in front pew. 

Palm Sunday meditation/sermon

We have used this introduction, conclusion and closing prayer bookending the Sunday Morning Live drama as the ‘sermon’ on Palm Sunday.

Possible sermon titles:  Not what we expected!  or  Two Kings: Take your choice!

 

Prayer:

Pray with me.  God may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight.  You are our rock and our redeemer.  Amen.

 

Introduction to drama:

Parades!  Processions!

 

Two columns enter Jerusalem.

One from the west [point in that direction], from Caesarea by the Sea.

One from the east [point in that direction], from the Mount of Olives.

 

In one procession, the leader is surrounded by Centurions, soldiers hefting spears.

Columns of defeated enemies chained together trudge behind.

In the other, the central figure is surrounded by an unruly assembly of shouting people, paving the dusty route with their cloaks and tree branches.

Columns of children dance, or so the story goes.

 

In one procession trumpets blare, and flags fly.

In the other shouts of “Hosanna!”,  “Save us!” rise from the crowd.

 

The man entering Jerusalem from the west [signify], from Ceasaria,

is met with fearful, downcast eyes.  He proudly rides a great steed, a war horse.

This is the feared Roman governor of the place called Judea.

Remember who the Roman governor is?  Pontius…[wait for congregation to respond] Pilate.

 

The man entering Jerusalem from the east, from the Mount of Olives, is met with waving palm branches, singing and dancing.  He rides a donkey, or a colt.

— Hang on a moment!  Anybody here ever ridden a donkey?

Did you feel high and mighty when riding that donkey?

I know when I have ridden a donkey I feel [when I have seen someone riding a donkey they look ] a little foolish, a little vulnerable.  But here comes a so-called King, humbly riding a…[wait for congregation to respond] donkey.

This is the King of the Jews from a place called Nazareth.

This is…[wait for congregation to respondJesus, son of … [wait for congregation to respond] Joseph.

 

Two men.  Two leaders.  But, oh so different, one from the other.

Pontius Pilate —  Proud, dangerous, frightful—

entering Jerusalem from the west [signify].

And Jesus – Humble, hopeful, joyful  —  entering from the east.

 

Let us join that eastern procession and our roving reporter with his camera crew.

 

Drama:   Sunday Morning Live  (See complete script above)

 

Conclusion — following drama:

Ride on! Ride on in majesty!

In lowly pomp ride on to die.

O Christ, thy triumphs now begin,

o’er captive death and conquered sin.

 

Jesus — humble, hopeful, joyful,  —  entering Jerusalem from the east.

Jesus will change people’s lives.

Indeed, he will change our world, he IS changing our world,

but not in ways or with means that we expect.

 

Jesus beckons to his followers, then and now, to serve the Eternal One with gladness,

to bring good news to the poor, to bring sight to the blind,

to bring liberty to the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the God’s favour.

 

Jesus, Servant King / Monarch / Ruler, riding humbly on a donkey.

May he enter our cities and our lives today.

 

Closing prayer:

Pray with me.

God of Promise,

we are taken by surprise at each Palm Sunday parade.

We so want Jesus to be powerful, a ruler who will smite the world of all evil,

and make all things good and easy for us.

Rather, he comes in humility to serve,

and calls us to have the strength to be humble servants.

Hosanna, save us from ourselves, that we might be the best we can be.

In the words of St Francis,

“Make us instruments of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let us sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

[Eternal One],

grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”

Show us the Way this Holy Week, O Eternal One. Amen.

 

*Ron VandenBurg plans and develops projects specifically for the spiritual formation of children.  He has written numerous Christian-theme dramas which are posted on the Dramatix website . A member of Jubilee Christian Reformed Church in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, Ron has been Senior Producer of Kids Corner since 2014.

The original script can be read here.

20site3A2Fwww.dramatix.org.nz">
… Deadly Sins. By Ron Vandenburg
Mary Monologues. By Ron VandenBurg, based on the play “Song of Mary”, by John McNeil …..

Palm Sunday Messiah – Dramatix

by Ron VandenBurg. Summary. A news reporter attempting to report the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem keeps getting interrupted by …
‘Sheep and Goats’, a monologue by Ron VandenBurg based on Matthew 25:31-46, in which the narrator ponders what qualifies a person …

Bible Stories & Parables – Dramatix

Paul sends an email to his friends, telling them of his experiences among the Athenians. (Author: Ron VandenBurg). Matthew’s Taxing Time. Dur: 7min.
You can be so busy “doing evangelism” that you don’t evangelise. This script asks, what is evangelism? (Author: Ron VandenBurg). I Am The Way. Dur: 7min. 
Gotta Have It : Customers fight over the latest Christmas fads in this satire. Points up how consumerism has taken over. (Author: Ron VandenBurg).