Man Alive!

(A Drama for Easter Day based on Luke 24.13­39)

On the Road from Emmaus and Man Alive! were written on different occasions and are two possible presentations related to the same scripture passage. The former imagines Matthias (later appointed as a witness of the resurrection in Judas' place in Acts 1.26) as Cleopas' companion. The latter gives this role to Zebedee, father of James and John. These different characters inject different possibilities into the conversation and I present them as two distinct dramas without attempts to merge the stories or reconcile the details. The second makes use of my own fairly free translation of the text.

Reader:Now that same day there were two of Jesus' disciples going to a village named Emmaus, twelve kilometres from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about all that had happened.

Just then, while they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and walked with them, but their eyes were held back from recognising him.

He said to them, "What are these matters you are exchanging while you walk?" And they stopped still looking sad.

One was named Cleopas - he answered, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who doesn't know the things that have happened here in these days?"

"What things?"

"The things to do with Jesus of Nazareth - a man - a prophet powerful in deed and word in God's sight and everyone's. Our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death and crucified him. Now - we had hoped that he was the one going to redeem Israel, and today is the third day since these things happened. And some of our womenfolk have confused and amazed us - they went early to the tomb and didn't find his body, but they came away saying they had seen a vision of angels who said he is alive! Some of our men went to the tomb and found it just the way the women had said, but they didn't see Jesus!"

And he said to them, "You are foolish and slow to understand and believe all that the prophets have said! Wasn't it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter his glory?" And starting from the beginning he explained to them from all the Old Testament Scriptures the things concerning himself.

They were approaching the village where they were going, and he acted as if he was going further. But they urged him, "Stay with us. It's almost evening - the day is nearly over!" So he went in to stay with them.

And then it happened! He was reclining with them at the table and took the bread - gave thanks - broke it - and gave it to them. Suddenly their eyes saw and they recognised him - and he disappeared from their sight!

CLEOPAS:Jesus! It's Jesus! He's alive! He's been right here with us, Zebedee!
ZEBEDEE:You know, Cleopas... When he was speaking to us on the road, I had a good, warm feeling inside…
CLEOPAS:So did I! But now he's gone again! Or has he? I don't have that terrible, lonely, empty feeling any more!
ZEBEDEE:We didn't recognise him, did we?
CLEOPAS:So full of sadness! So full of all that had happened! How could we?
ZEBEDEE:And he had died so horribly, so publicly! We knew he was dead! Everyone knew he was dead! And dead people don't come alive again!
CLEOPAS:Your boys, James and John - had they heard any clues of this?
ZEBEDEE:Well, more than once he told them that he would be put to death. That gave them all such a shock - such a mental block - that they were very vague about what he said next!
CLEOPAS:I wonder if he did say something else! Perhaps it might come back to them now!
ZEBEDEE:We had better go right back up to them at once.
CLEOPAS:I wonder if we can figure the place where we first saw him along the road.
ZEBEDEE:We must tell them that what the women said is true, and that we have seen Jesus!
CLEOPAS:It was when he took the bread, blessed and broke it - that's when we knew it was Jesus!
ZEBEDEE:We must try to remember the Scripture passages he told us to show that the Messiah really had to suffer that awful death and then be raised again!
CLEOPAS:Did you hear me, Zebedee? It was when he took the bread...
ZEBEDEE:When... he took... the bread...
CLEOPAS:Come on, Zebedee. I don't feel like finishing the meal just now. I just want to get back with the others to tell them.
ZEBEDEE:So do I. The others must be told this wonderful news.
CLEOPAS:This trip will be very different! Let's get going!
Reader:So they got up right away and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples gathered together and the others who were with them. This group were saying, "The Lord has really risen! Simon has seen him!" So they gave their account of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him when he broke the bread.

While they were still talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said, "Peace to you!"

They were stunned and frightened - is this a ghost? But he said to them, "Why are you troubled? Why are doubts arising in your minds? Look at my hands and feet! It really is me! Touch me and see - a ghost doesn't have flesh and bones!"

From Between the Lines. Dialogues for Worship by Peter J. Blackburn published by Testimonium Fellowship 1992, © Peter J. Blackburn.
Permission is given for copying of this document for local use with this copyright notice intact. For any other proposed use the specific permission of Peter J. Blackburn must be sought.

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