This article is from Issue 54 of “On The Move,” a publication of new learning possibilities for churches, at one time published by The Joint Board of Christian Education of Australia and New Zealand.
Although some ideas and liturgies may appear somewhat “dated” in style, concept, imagery or language, they may nevertheless offer a spring-board for new ideas among people who find themselves leading worship, perhaps in a new context, and with some trepidation.
Reproduced by permission. May be reprinted for use in local congregations only.
THE WITNESSES by Bruce Prewer
Jesus Ben-Joseph, you are charged with being a failure; you have wilfully refused to capitalise on the great abilities given to you; you did not live up to high expectations.FIRST WITNESS (auntie from Nazareth):
Jesus is a black sheep. Although he was brought up in a wonderful family he deserted them. When they came looking for him to offer forgiveness and a chance to return home, he spurned them. As a son and brother, Jesus is a failure.SECOND WITNESS (pansh priest at Nazareth):
This man is a disgrace to Israel. At school he was taught by the kindest of rabbis. In the synagogue he was given every opportunity to worship and understand the holy God of Israel. But Jesus has thrown away his religious heritage and replaced it with his own half-baked ideas. As a Jew, Jesus is a failure.
THIRD WITNESS (zealous nationalist from Tiherius):
I knew Jesus well. He talked of his kingdom but was politically a fool. Either he didn’t understand or didn’t have the guts to lead the thousands ready to follow him in a righteous revolution against our foul oppressors. Even when his support started to wither away, he did nothing about it. As a politician, he is an abject failure.
FOURTH WITNESS (landowner from Jezreel):
Jesus lacked common sense. That business of disciples. I and some of my friends, all of us well educated – and some of us of royal descent would have been ready to become disciples. Yet what did he do? He called ignorant fishermen and traitorous tax collectors! Nearly all of them were social misfits and petty criminals. Jesus is a failure; he didn’t use his brains.
FIFTH WITNESS (councillor’s wife at Jerusalem):
One cannot really feel sorry for this man; it’s far easier to despise him. When he knew his arrest was likely, the indecisive idiot took no steps to prevent it. That last week in Jerusalem was a complete fiasco. Then there were the matters of his arrest and trial. The police found him trembling in the garden, such a coward that they did not even need to use their weapons. Why wouldn’t he fight for his beliefs? It was the same at his trials; his weak attempts at a defence were absurd. As a man, Jesus is a complete failure.
SIXTH WITNESS (Roman soldier):
I’ve supervised many cruciflxions. All men put up a struggle when thrown down for the nailing. It’s amazing how much strength a man has at that moment. But not Jesus. He didn’t struggle, didn’t spit, didn’t even curse. Rather he blubbered on about forgiveness. The thieves on the other crosses had some spirit left, even when lifted up. Not him. I suppose it wouldn’t have been so bad if he had been helped by the God he was always blabbing about. If his God had stood by him at the end there may have been something successful about Jesus. It wasn’t so. His sobbing about God ‘forsaking’ him was his own epitaph on a wasted life. He was a failure, completely a failure.