The Passion Narrative

Dramatic Reading from Mark 14:10-16:7

For Ages 13+

I wrote this dramatic reading for a middle school retreat on Good Friday. I wanted the children to hear the whole story of the betrayal, arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. Most of them have heard various bits and pieces of the story without getting the full picture. For that reason, the story has been shortened and some elements left out for simplicity and to highlight the overall narrative. The text, however, is straight from the NIV. Everyone attending had a part to read. We sat in a circle so everyone could hear and see each other. More than one person can be a "False Witness" and all women or girls in the group can be the "Women at the Tomb." Since no one speaker goes on for very long and the voices are constantly changing and coming from different directions around the circle, it is hard for even wiggly students to tune out. The narrators and Jesus are the largest parts so make sure you assign them to your best readers. 

Dramatic Reading

Narrator 1: Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

All Narrators: THURSDAY

Narrator 2: On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus sent two of his disciples to prepare the Passover meal. When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, 

Jesus: Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.

Narrator 3: They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”

Jesus: It is one of the Twelve, one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 

Narrator 4: While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, 

Jesus: Take it; this is my body. 

Narrator 5: Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 

Jesus: This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

Narrator 1: When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus: You will all fall away, for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.

Peter: Even if all fall away, I will not.

Jesus: Truly I tell you, today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.

Peter: Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.

Narrator 2: All the others said the same.

Narrator 3: They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, 

Jesus: Sit here while I pray. 

Narrator 4: He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 

Jesus: My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch.

Narrator 5: Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 

Jesus: Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.

Narrator 1: Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. 

Jesus: Simon Peter, are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Narrator 2: Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: 

Judas: The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.

Narrator 3: Going at once to Jesus, Judas greeted and kissed him. 

Judas: Rabbi! 

Narrator 4: The men seized Jesus and arrested him. They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire. 

Narrator 5: The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 

False Witnesses: We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’ 

Narrator 1: Yet even then their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, 

High Priest: Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you? 

Narrator 2: But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, 

High Priest: Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?

Jesus: I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.

Narrator 3: The high priest tore his clothes. 

High Priest: Why do we need any more witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?

Narrator 4: They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, 

All: Prophesy! 

Narrator 5: And the guards took him and beat him.

Narrator 1: While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

Servant Girl: You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus. 

Peter: I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about. 

Narrator 2: He went out into the entryway. When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, 

Servant Girl: This fellow is one of them.

Narrator 3: Again he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” He began to call down curses, and he swore to them.

Peter: I don’t know this man you’re talking about.

Narrator 4: Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: 

Jesus: Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times. 

Narrator 5: And he broke down and wept.

All Narrators: FRIDAY

Narrator 1: Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound 
Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

Pilate: Are you the king of the Jews?

Jesus: You have said so. 

Narrator 2: The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, 

Pilate: Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.

Narrator 3: But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Narrator 4: Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

Pilate: Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews? 

Narrator 5: Pilate knew it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

Pilate: What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?

All: Crucify him!

Pilate: Why? What crime has he committed? 

Narrator 1: But they shouted all the louder, 

All: Crucify him!

Narrator 2: Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. 

Narrator 3: The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, 

All: Hail, king of the Jews! 

Narrator 4: Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

Narrator 5: They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

Narrator 1: It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews. They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, 

All: So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!

Narrator 2: In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. 

Chief Priest: He saved others, but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe. 

Narrator 3: Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. 

Narrator 4: At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 

Jesus: Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? 

Narrator 5: (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

Narrator 1: When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Narrator 2: Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

Narrator 3: With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Narrator 4: Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and 
Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. 

Narrator 5: It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.

Narrator 1: Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.

Narrator 2: So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

All Narrators: SUNDAY

Narrator 3: When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, 

Women: Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?

Narrator 4: But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

Angel: Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’

Narrator 5: Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

Copyright 2018 Elizabeth Nielsen

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