The Resurrection On Trial

  • Cast Number: 16
  • Run-time: 60 minutes
  • Bible Reference: Luke 24

A very well researched and written account of a court case in which those actually on the scene at the resurrection are called on to prove, or disprove, the validity of the resurrection. This easily staged drama creates a court-like atmosphere, with the audience being the jury. In most cases the memorization will not be extreme since there is a minimum of lines for each actor.

Ronnie Read of Georgia staged this script:

Thank you for your suggestions and assistance with finding "The Resurrection on Trial". The performance was last night and went wonderfully! We had people here who were "seekers" and a few that said they would be back Sunday to hear more about the Gospel! I thought you may be encouraged that your Drama Share site is helping to minister to many. 

Cast: 16
Narrator (opening)
Attorney Damien Nahash, prosecutor
Attorney Seth Emet, defence
Captain Jacob Levitt, temple guard officer
Judas Iscariot
Dr. FF Bruce, New Testament expert
Peter the apostle
Joseph of Arimathea
Mary Magdalene

Set: likely very plain, but could be full court look

Lighting, Sound: standard

Costumes: could, in the case of the original characters, be traditional or contemporary, Dr. Bruce and the officials in the court would be contemporary

Sample of script:

Narrator opening comments

Welcome to the play, The Resurrection on Trial. We will present a hypothetical trail where the state attempts to bring evidence against the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You, the audience, will be the jury this evening. We will present the evidence. You will hear from eyewitnesses. You will decide the verdict.

The Trial Commences and Opening Statements

Bailiff: “All rise for the honorable Judge Eli Shopate1.”

[Judge walks in and is seated.]

Judge: “Please be seated. Court is now in session.
We are here to consider case #2216-48446-2011, the State Versus the Alleged Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Gentlemen, are you ready to make your opening remarks?”

Both attorneys: “Yes, your honor.”

Judge: “Very well. We shall begin with the prosecution.
Attorney Nahash2, you many proceed.”

Attorney Damien Nahash: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the state will prove, once and for all, that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is just a myth. This legend has been nothing but a nuisance, misleading gullible people. It actually creates a misuse of time and resources, including an entire weekend out of the calendar, and a holiday when we should be working. It also restricts the free exercise of many activities. The state will conclusively prove that the resurrection of Jesus has no basis in fact, and that it is a mere fable, not even fit for bedtime stories.”

Judge: “And now the defense. Attorney Emet3, it is your turn.”

Attorney Seth Emet: “Contrary to what you just heard, we will present incontrovertible evidence that Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and raised on the third day. This fact was predicted almost 1,500 years before it occurred. We will present textual evidence and multiple testimony of two kinds, both expert and eyewitness.”

Judge: “The floor is yours, Mr. Nahash.”

Witnesses for the Prosecution

Witness #1: Captain Jacob Levitt

Nahash: “The state would like to call Captain Jacob Levitt.”

[After witness makes his way to the stand.]
“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

Levitt: “I do.”

Nahash: “I see that you have the rank of Captain. Can you describe for the court the exact nature of your military responsibilities?”

Levitt: “Why, yes. I am an officer over the temple guard. We are an Israeli Special Forces unit trained and tasked to protect the purity and integrity of the temple and its grounds. I am honored to have this assignment as it is considered the ultimate military responsibility for a Jewish soldier.”

Nahash: “Thank you. Now, can you tell me where you were from early on the Sabbath, April 4th through Sunday, April 5th, 33 A. D.4?”

Levitt: “Oh, that?s an easy one to remember. After this Jesus of Nazareth had been executed, it was necessary to guard the tomb. Our chief priest and the Pharisees obtained permission from Governor Pilate to use our own special forces to provide the security detail. The chief priests and Pharisees placed their own seal on the large stone which was covering the entrance to the tomb5. I, myself, oversaw the entire operation and never left the site from early on the Sabbath until Sunday morning.”

Nahash: “So you were there when this Jesus character was alleged to have risen from the dead. Did you witness such an event?”

Levitt: “Negative.”

Nahash: “So what happened?”

Levitt: “The disciples stole the body so that they could deceive people into believing that He fulfilled the predictions”.

Nahash: “Thank you. No further questions.”

Judge: “Mr. Emet, would you like to cross examine this witness?”

Emet: “Yes, your honor.”
[Slight pause.]
“Captain, just for the record, we all appreciate and respect you service.”

Levitt: “Thank you”.

Emet: “You are part of Israeli special forces. You guys have quite a reputation as a group of elite soldiers. How would you rank your military unit with others?”

Levitt: “We are considered the best, or we wouldn?t have had the job of protecting the temple!

Emet: “Have you ever been beaten in battle?”

Levitt: “We are sworn to battle to the death, so I wouldn?t be here if I had ever lost a battle.”

Emet: “Now you have already testified that the disciples stole the body, yet this would have taken place while you and your crack unit were on duty. Is this court to believe that a bunch of unarmed fishermen and tax collectors overpowered this elite group of highly skilled soldiers?”

Levitt: [Pause.] “Well.” [Pause.] “That?s not what I am saying.”

Emet: “Well, we are all ears. Why don?t you explain how a ragtag bunch of men overcame a skilled armed guard, broke the seal, rolled away this gigantic stone, and pilfered the body?”

Levitt: “Uh, well maybe we were asleep?”

Emet: “Are you telling us that you and your men were not taking the normal watch shifts, in which case you didn?t take the assignment very seriously?”

Levitt: “I?m saying that we fell asleep.”

Emet: “All of you fell asleep at the same time?”

Levitt: “Well, yes.”

Emet: “So how do you know that the disciples took the body?”

Levitt: “Uh, I guess that we woke up when it was happening.”

Emet: “So then, a small group of men without military training overpowered Israel?s most crack unit?”

Levitt: [Obviously nervous and without the previous swagger.] “You don?t understand.”

Emet: “Again, I?m all ears. In fact, what if I told you that I could present a witness that could explain what is really going on here?”

Nahash: “I object, your Honor!! There was nothing about this in the interrogatories!”

Emet: “Your Honor, if need be, I could present a hostile witness to prove that this witness just perjured himself.”

Judge: “Objection denied”.

Emet: “Captain, I want to remind you that you are under oath. Would you like to reconsider your testimony?”

Levitt: [Looking at Nahash.] “Okay, okay. You see, I have just been following orders from the Sanhedrin. I was told to say that.”

Emet: “That is not news to me but perhaps it is to the court. Do you have anything to add?”

Levitt: “We were given a bonus to keep quiet.”

Emet: “Thank you, Captain. Now, what do you suppose the disciples would stand to gain had they stolen the body?”

Nahash: “I object, your Honor. The witness can?t possibly know the mindset of these men.”

Judge: “Objection sustained.”

Emet: “Well, let?s try this. All of these men, except one, were put to death for the message about this resurrection. Would you die for what you knew to be a lie?”

Nahash: “Objection! This is asking the same thing.” Judge: “No, he is asking what he would do, not what someone else would do.”

Levitt: “No, I would confess the truth. I wouldn?t cover up something false and die for it without coming clean.”

Emet: “One more question, Captain. And remember that you are under oath. Did you feel an earthquake at the tomb and see an angel roll away the stone and sit on it?”

Levitt: “Uh, yeah. In fact, some of us were so freaked out that we ran to the chief priests, which is when we were told to lie.”

Emet: “Thank you. No further questions.”

Judge: “You may step down, Captain. Be glad that I don?t cite you for perjury or obstruction of justice!”

Witness #2: Judas

Nahash: “The state would like to call Judas Iscariot.”

Bailiff: [After witness makes his way to his spot - possible boos from the crowd, so plan for it.]
“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

Judas: “I do.”

Nahash: “Mr. Iscariot, you knew Jesus of Nazareth quite well.”

Judas: “Yes. I spent day-and-night with Him for three-and-a-half years.”

Nahash: “I guess that you knew him as well as anyone.”

Judas: “Without question, I saw Him in action and heard most everything that He said.”

Nahash: “Yet, you weren?t truly one of His followers, were you?”

Judas: “No, I put on the appearance of being a disciple. But I wanted to see what was going to happen, and I also found it to be quite profitable to go along, having access to the money box you see.”

Nahash: “Yet despite having witnessed all these “alleged” miracles and witnessed the man?s character, you did not believe in Him?”

Judas: “I guess not.”

Nahash: “So you were obviously not convinced. Is it true that you turned over this troublemaker to the authorities in Gethsemane?”

Judas: “Yes, I did. Something had to be done.”

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