A Visit to the Upper Room
A Dramatic Monologue
The setting is the upper room.
The character is Thaddeus, one of the 12. He is straightening the room.
Thaddeus turns is acts surprised to see someone.
Oh, Hi there! You startled me. I did not expect anyone to be up here with me. My name is Thaddeus. What is yours? (Extends his hand in greeting.)
Well, I’m glad to meet you. Are you a friend of the homeowners?
Oh, really! You would like to ask me questions… about Jesus…. And about that night! Well, I’d love to tell you about it.
It all started in Bethany, that morning. Jesus sent Peter and John ahead of us to Jerusalem with the instructions to prepare a place where we could eat the Passover meal. I remember those instructions He gave them. Strange, to say the least.
He told them that when they entered the city they would see a male servant fetching water in a jar. They were to follow the servant. Then they were to say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher sent us to ask you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’”
Don’t you think that is strange? I mean that Jesus would know that a servant would be fetching water at the very moment that Peter and John would arrive in the city? How could He do that? I’ll tell you… the Rabbi was constantly surprising us.
Why one time we were in Capernaum and the tax collector demanded that we pay a two drachma tax. Well, we had no money to pay a tax. What did Jesus do? He told Peter to go fishing. In the mouth of the first fish he caught he would find a four drachma coin. He was to use that to pay the tax.
And you know what? HE DID! He caught a fish and there was the coin in its mouth!!!
Another time Jesus sent Peter and John into a town and told them that they would find a donkey with her colt both tied just inside the gate. Untie them and bring them to me. Glory to God, they were there, just like Jesus said.
That Jesus was always doing stuff like that.
There rest of us were following Jesus into town that evening and here come Peter and John. You guessed it… the servant was there and the room was ready just like Jesus said it would be.
What a teacher. What a Savior.
We all followed Jesus upstairs to this room and everything was ready and waiting for us.
As we entered the room there was a basin, a pitcher and a towel for us to wash our feet. I saw it. We all saw it. I think we would have used it if we had not been in such a hurry to get our seat. It was not that we did not want to wash our feet. It would have felt great after the dusty two mile walk from Bethany. But the Passover meal is special. And each of us wanted to get the best seats. You know, the ones closest to Jesus. John was the youngest and he got the seat on Jesus’ right hand.
Jesus just sat there and watched the rest of us in our mad scramble for positions. It did not strike me then…. But there was a sad look on his face.
When we were each in our place, we looked up to find Jesus. He had gotten up from the table and moved to the far corner of the room, where the basin was, and was tying the towel around his waist.
All at once it was like a knife stabbed me in the heart. I had watched the towel tied around the waist many times. Always by the house servant as he prepared to wash the feet of guests. Now, here was Jesus, my Rabbi, my leader… the miracle worker, the most holy and pure person I had ever known, preparing to do the lowly and menial work of a servant.
What made it so painful was that I had seen the basin. I had known what it was for. But I, like the rest, though that is no excuse mind you…. I had sought a position of honor, a place of privilege and now Jesus was doing what I had scorned.
The lowest had sought the position of honor and the highest had bowed to a position of service.
The truth, the guilt was like a hot iron on my soul. I hung my head in shame. I did not dare to meet the gaze of the others. I was ashamed of myself. I was ashamed of them. I wanted to run and take the towel from Jesus and wrap it around my waist and wash His feet. But guilt and shame held me in my place… like chains. I was paralyzed. I would look like a hypocrite. So I sat there, silent and ashamed.
I did not even look up at Jesus when he came to wash my feet. I did not dare see those eyes. I knew what I would see. Not shame. Not anger. Not sadness. I could handle that.
I knew I would see love. Unbelievable, unconditional, undaunted love. I had seen it in His eyes when he called me to follow Him. In fact it was that love in his eyes that caused me to follow. I had seen it in his eyes when he cast the demon out of the possessed boy, and spoke to the woman caught in adultery, and when he wept over the city of Jerusalem. I had seen it in his eyes when He held the children on his lap and when he looked at the leper who came back to say thank you. It was the same love I saw in those eyes when he looked at the crowd that mocked him and called for his death.
To see that love in his eyes now was too much. My guilt was already like a knife in my soul. To see that love in his eyes as he washed my feet would be like turning that knife in my heart.
When Jesus had finished washing the feet of all of the 12… even Peter who protested. I wish that I had protested. When he finished washing the last foot… he stood up, went back to the table where he got the basin, took off the towel and put his cloak back on. Then he took his rightful place that the head of the table.
From the place of humility to the place of honor. From serving to being served.
I wonder…Is that what he was trying to teach? That those who want to be lifted up, must learn to bow down. That those who seek honor and rewards can only find them through submission and service?
I will never forget that lesson. Whenever I am faced with a task that I think is too lowly, to menial, to degrading for me…. I remember the picture of Jesus holding that towel and stooping to wash my feet. I can tell you; NO JOB IS TOO MENIAL FOR ME NOW!
I have learned to find joy in serving, strength through weakness and victory through submission.
I guess that is what Jesus meant when he said, “The meek shall inherit the earth.”
Any way; I digress. You wanted to know about the meal, didn’t you?
He began the meal as usual…
the wine, the roasted shankbone, the bitter herbs and the bread.
But as he took the bread he did something unusual… he said, “This is my body.” And he held it up in front of us and broke it.
We were still trying to understand what he meant by that when he said something else even more strange.
“ONE OF YOU WILL BETRAY ME.” That is what Jesus said. “One of you will betray me.”
You could have knocked me over with a feather. I saw the confusion on the other faces too. BETRAY…YOU…ONE OF US?
My initial reaction was shock, horror and denial. But then, something inside of me cried out…”Is it me? Am I the one? Does he mean me?”
Then he said it was the one dipped with him…and we saw Judas’ hand in the bowl. Judas turned pink with embarrassment. But then all of the color left his face as he looked into our faces. He got up and stormed out of the room.
Now we were really reeling. First “This is my body.” Then, “One of you will betray me.” Now Judas leaving in haste. But before we could catch our breath, Jesus hit us with another blow.
He took the cup of wine and said, “This is my blood of the new covenant.”
His body… his blood… broken…. Shed? What did it mean?
There was no time to ask him any questions. Before we knew it Jesus was standing and leaving. There was nothing to do but follow him.
We left this place that night. Walking through the darkness to the Garden of Gethsemene. No one said a word. The events and words of that supper coursed through my mind over and over. It was a blur. Was it real? Or was it a dream? Maybe I would wake up soon and it would all be gone.
I sat there in the garden with the others and my mind was confused. I fell asleep… and was awakened by the sound of voices, feet, and chains. I jumped to my feet and before I could get my eyes focused… he was gone. Led away into the darkness.
As the light of the torches faded… so did the light in my soul. I was cold, afraid and empty. I heard the sobs of the others. I heard footsteps as they raced away. Something inside of me… cowardice… caused me to run behind them. The next thing I knew I was back in this place, sitting alone in a dark corner. The others were there too. But, again, no one spoke. No one looked at anyone else. We sat. Some cried. Others just sat with a blank look on their face.
It was not until later, through hindsight… that we realized what had happened. Before we understood the meaning of it all.
Jesus, my Rabbi, my Lord, my friend, died…. For me… for my sins… for my pardon.
Those nails were meant for me. Those stripes on his back were because of my sin. That cross was the penalty for my sins. His body was broken by the beatings, the whip and the nails. His body was broken like that piece of bread. It was my sins that broke him. My sins that cracked the whip. My sins that drove the nails.
That night as Jesus washed our feet he had said, “You are clean, but not all of you.”
Our feet were clean but our heart was still black with sin. The blood of Jesus was what was required to clean the rest of us… our soul. Today you can be clean, all of you, perfectly clean. You can be washed in the blood. It can wash away the vilest sin… and the least sin. It can wash away the guilt of sin, the punishment of sin… and break the chains of sin.
Right now I invite you to the table, His table. I invite you to take the bread, his broken body… as you take it, as you hold it in your hand… thank God for sending Jesus to die for your sins.
As you take the cup notice the red color. Red symbolizes the blood Jesus shed to wash away your sins. Thank God for taking away your sins. Ask him to take away your sins if you have not already.
I invite the deacons to the front pew.