And a frenzied murmur began in the darkness. Come awake! Christ is risen! Come awake! He is risen indeed!
I wrote this for church a few years back. It’s a dialogue or, really, a mesh of two monologues of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. I was intrigued by their parallel stories in connection to the cross. Both of them were followers in secret, until the cross. And, then, when everyone else was hiding in fear the two who had been hidden came forward.
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus Dialogue:
Nicodemus: It was Joseph here who went to Pilate for the body.
Joseph of Arimathea: I’m a Council member from Arimathea. Nicodemus helped.
N: I helped to prepare his body.
J: I’m a man of position, quite successful in what I do.
N: I’m a man of belief, and traditions, the rabbi of a nation.
J: Jesus came at an inconvenient time for me.
N: It was an inconvenient time.
J: If I had been younger…
N: In my more revolutionary days…
J: There would have been less at stake.
N: It would have been easier to seek him out.
J: But now I’m enmeshed. I have responsibilities; people depend on me for their livelihoods.
N: A people watches me for guidance, for surety of their faith.
J: His apostles were thought of as crazy fishermen.
N: My peers had already labeled him a heretic.
J: I feared, yes, I was afraid what that stigma might do to my situation.
N: I couldn’t lead others astray with my misplaced approval. I had to test his words for myself.
J: As it was, I followed his teachings in secret.
N: So it was, I looked for him in the night.
J: I believed in Him. He was the Messiah. He gave flesh to the law in his words, with his actions.
N: That conversation with Jesus, things that I had understood for so long became confusing. It was a
paradigm shift of the most severe kind.
J: I wondered if a time would come when I would have to stop hiding.
N: I wondered if there was a day when I would finally understand.
J: Then I heard the news that he’d been imprisoned.
N: They demanded his crucifixion. It was Passover.
J: Everyone was there. I was there. I have money. Some powerful people owe me favors. Surely there would be something I could do? Something somebody would do?
N: Then they lifted him up on the cross. And it all came clear. What he had said to me about Moses’s snake lifted up on a pole in the desert that those who looked upon it might be spared their certain death.
N: Because the Son of Man must be lifted up. I was being spared my certain death. I wanted to shout, “Look on him! Look on him!”
J: Look on him.
N: And I believed.
J: He died.
N: And I was born. Born again as he said, not by flesh but by spirit and into a life that has no end.
J: His friends feared. But someone had to take care of the arrangements. So I stepped forward.
N: This time in the daylight.
J: I claimed him.
N: I brought myrrh and aloe.
J: They were calling the cross his defeat.
N: My fellow council members were satisfied it was over.
J: But I had found boldness there.
N: It had made all things clear.
J: And the best news was still to come,
J&N: Three days later.