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BARABBAS’ SUBSTITUTE – written by Tanis Harms
TOPIC:        Jesus died in our place
SCRIPTURE:    Mt.27:1-14; Mk.15:1-32; Lk.23:1-43;
.             Jhn.19:1-19; 1Pet.2:21-24, 3:18
Style:        drama/conversation:  In prison,
.             as the two thieves and Barabbas
.             wait for their crucifixion, they hear
.             about Jesus and what is about to happen,
.             and discuss how they might have lived
.             their lives differently
Cast:         BARABBAS, THIEF 1-2, JAILER
Set & Props:  (optional) prison cell or
.             bars for background, chains

SCRIPT:

(BARABBAS lounges on the cell floor as comfortable
as he can get.  THIEF 1 paces without purpose
while THIEF 2 leans against a wall, eavesdropping
into some distant conversation.  JAILER walks past.)

THIEF 1   Hey!  What’s going on over there?

THIEF 2   It kind of sounds like you’re torturing
.         someone, although I don’t hear the prisoner.

(JAILER stops to gloat.)

JAILER    Some man – claims to be King of the Jews,
.         if you can believe that.
.         So, the guards are having a bit of fun.
.         It would be a lot more fun if the man
.         would scream - cry - or something.
.         Anything.

THIEF 1   (concerned)  But what’s His crime?

THIEF 2   (eagerly)  Yeah, what did he do?

JAILER    The man is obviously innocent.  But –
.         I don’t know, the leaders are set on making
.         him out to be - some kind of an example.

THIEF 2   Example of what?
.                                                       2
JAILER    (unsure)  Maybe - of what could happen
.         to anyone else who can do – things -
.         that only God can do-

THIEF 1   Is this the man called Jesus?  I’ve heard
.         about Him.  I heard that He can do miracles.

JAILER    (angry now)  I don’t know.
.         What do you care, anyway?
.         By the end of the day – you’ll all be dead.
.         (eyeing BARABAS)  Hey, Barabbas,
.         don’t get too comfortable.

(JAILER walks away.  THIEF 2 stops to look with awe
at BARABBAS.)

THIEF 2   You – are the notorious Barabbas?!

BARABBAS  You’re a fan of my work?

THIEF 2   I’ll say!  Wow!  What an honor!  To be
.         crucified next to someone like Barabbas!

BARABBAS  What are you here for?

THIEF 2   (proudly)  Stealing!

THIEF 1   How can you be proud of that?
.         I’m not proud of that.  If only I could go back
.         and do it all over again.

THIEF 2   If I could do it all over again,
.         I’d just make sure not to get caught.
.         I guess for that to happen –
.         one needs to murder the witnesses.

BARABBAS  Well obviously, that can catch up
.         with you, too.  Otherwise I would not be here.

THIEF 2   Well, I guess you didn’t murder ALL
.         your witnesses.  Huh?...  So how many people
.         did you kill?  What was it like?

BARABBAS  Could you just shut up.  I’d like to spend
.         my last few hours in - some sort of peace.

(THIEF 2 gets all puffed up.)                           3

THIEF 2   Oh, or what?  What’re you going to do –
.         kill me?  I’m already dead, anyway.
.         And I could just turn around and kill you.  
.         I’ve always wanted to know what that felt like.

BARABBAS  Go right ahead.  I deserve it.  It’ll be
.         a quicker death than hanging on a cross.

THIEF 1   Shhhh.  I’m trying to listen.

THIEF 2   What’s so interesting about that man, anyway?

THIEF 1   He’s refusing to defend Himself.
.         I just don’t get it.

(JAILER comes to open the door.)

JAILER    Barabbas – this is your lucky day.

BARABBAS  What are you talking about?

JAILER    The people were given a choice to free someone.
.         The Governor was hoping it would be Jesus,
.         but the leaders got the crowd to chant out
.         YOUR name, instead.

(JAILER enters and gets down to unlock the chains
around BARABBAS’ ankles.)

THIEF 1   If this Jesus is innocent – why are people
.         so set on killing Him?

THIEF 2   He must be a real threat to the leaders.

THIEF 1   He’s obviously being framed.

THIEF 2   That’s his problem.  I think he sounds like
.         a very stupid man - and therefore –
.         deserves to die.

(JAILER gets the last of the chains unlocked.)

JAILER    Your chains are off.  You are a free man,
.         Barabbas.

THIEF 2   (laughs)  For now!  Until next time!          4
.         Unless you figure out how not to get caught –
.         again.

THIEF 1   Or better yet, change your ways.

JAILER    (to BARABBAS)  Go on, what you waiting for?
.         I promise you, this is not a trap.

BARABBAS  I don’t understand.

JAILER    (glibly)  Sounds simple enough to me.  Jesus
.         will be taking your place on that cross.

(JAILER and BARABBAS exit.  LIGHTS DIM.)