Lucius! Lucius! Acts III and Act IV
Center Stage: The cell with all male Christians laying about.
GUARD #2: [Enters and snaps to attention]
CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD: [Enters, stage left and talks to the Guard] ďLeave us.Ē
GUARD #2: [Exits the dungeon]
CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD: I understand your loss. There were some I had met and knew quite well. I was sorry to see them go. But as a solider death is no stranger to me. I wake up with it in the morning. I face it all day long. After I kiss my wife good night I caress it for the last time until morning.
PONTUS: Death is but an eventuality of life. As one is born, one shall die. Then comes the judgment.
CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD: But this murder of the innocent; women and children is beyond anything comprehensible. It has no value. I can understand war and combat; fighting and subduing, but what glory is there in murdering the innocent?
PONTUS: It is beyond all imagination?
CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD: Yes.
PONTUS: Then you should understand what we are up against. Brother Paul left us a letter which is now in safer hands, in which he wrote that we do not fight against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities.
CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD: The power is Roman rules and the princes of madness.
JOHN: No. They are the tools of the powers of darkness in fleshly manifestation of the evil one. He is the power behind the emperor.
PONTUS: Our Christ saved us from the flesh and the power.
CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD: Yet you suffer because of it. Then your god didnít save you well enough.
PONTUS: There is more to our salvation than just this flesh. We are born into the flesh and over the course of our lives we are ruled by it not knowing right from wrong. But the spirit of God, which dwells in every man calls to us to reveal the truth. Men translate that calling into laws in order to save other men from themselves. To cry out in a loud voice that we are not bond by the flesh, but conceived in the spirit which has power over the flesh.
LIONIUS: You too, hear the call of the spirit within you telling you that what you see is not the will of God.
CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD: Yet it is the law, which I must obey.
JOHN: Sir, I was born a Jew, a person bound by the law. My name is John and I come from the land of the Jews. As a Jew, I was raised under the law having first received it from the God above. My forefathers perverted the law and made it of no consequence which condemned my people to bondage to the flesh. But there was one who came teaching us that the love of God was greater than the law. That he would pay the price required to save us all. His name was Jesus.
CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD: That Jesus speaks now for you?
PONTUS: That Jesus, who was born of a virgin, taught in the streets of Israel, was crucified and died for our sins, who was buried in a borrowed tomb, who rose on the third day, and was the son of the most High God, savior of this generation and the generation to come, overcame the flesh, defeated the evil one and broke his claim upon us forever. It was his love of us and his love for us, that even in the face of death we can rejoice knowing that he is with us.
THIMUS: [Moving from the back of the cell] So you see, we have lost nothing; and we fear nothing, because the Lord our God, your God is with us always.
CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD: Even though I extend to you the opportunity to be free once again, you will not take it?
INON: We canít. Nor would we choose to. We have been brought with a price more precious than gold. Something that you, right now canĎt understand.
CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD: Then prepare yourselves. The emperor has called for another round of games and sports. If you will not accept this opportunity, all the older men will be used as targets for the emperorís archers today.
PONTUS: If this is our avenue to heaven, then let us look forward to with joy. Go in peace and may the Lord be with you.
CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD: [Turning about to leave] GUARD!
GUARD #2: [Enters, stage left]
CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD: Prepare for the games. [Exit]
LUCIUS: [Angered] Father! Am I to loose you too! Why not take this opportunity to live for one more day?
THIMUS: Son, think about what you say.
LUCIUS: I donít know this Jesus as well as you do. I was brought into this faith upon your marriage to Reba, but now she is gone. Why must you go also?
THIMUS: Lucius, be not afraid.
LUCIUS: No father, have you forgotten, my sister? Have you forgotten the screams and the flames? Have you forgotten your own wife?
THIMUS: How can I forget. I can still see them both in my mind and remember how strong there faith was in the Lord. And for that reason alone, I would gladly loose this life. But the greatest of all reasons is my faith in the Lord Jesus.
LUCIUS: I too remember the eyes of my sister. I remember how brave she was, and I remember how much Reba loved Jesus, but that love cost my sister her life!
PONTUS: [Trying to console Lucius] Lucius be strong. The love of God is with you.
LUCIUS: But where is He? Where is this sword and shield I have been promised? Where is the rock in a weary land, where is this whole armory of God that you spoke of? Where is my Jesus!
PONTUS: Child . . .
LUCIUS: No! I have never needed Jesus more than I need Jesus now! Where is He! Yesterday, it was my sister and stepmother, today, my father. Tomorrow it could be me! So where is my God when I need Him?!
THIMUS: [Trying to hug his son] My son, my son, where is your faith?
LUCIUS: My faith is with my God! Where both of them are, I donít know?
THIMUS: Your faith is where your trust is. And your trust is in the Lord! You are a man of God and not a child, so stand up and act like it!
LUCIUS: [Hugging his father hard] Father!
JOHN: [Comforting both Lucius and Thimus] We all know your fear, Lucius. None of us has ever walked this path of death before, so we are unsure what will happen, yet our trust is in the Lord. In the books of law, we were taught that God made this flesh out of the dust of the earth and upon death thus it returns. But our spirit which dwellings in this flesh came from the breath of God and upon death thus it returns. Our trust is not in our longevity or prosperity in this world, but that God the father, through his son, Jesus Christ has saved us from the eternal death to come. That upon this death we enter into an abundant life which was prepared for us from the foundation of this earth. Let us pray now together for the strength to look death in the face and fear not. Pray that the spirit of the Lord which is in us is stronger than the flesh around us. Let us pray for the forgiveness of sin, ours as well as our punishers.Ē
BETITIUS: I have found brother, that prayer is the foundation of our inter-strength; our daily companion, yes, let us all pray together, this last time.
ELIAS: [Pointing] Look, the guard is coming.
PONTUS: Let us gather together one with another and pray.
CHRISTIANS: [Kneel in silent prayer. Enus waits at the cell door watching.]
GUARD #2: [Enters, stage left] All men forty years or older stand up.
CHRISTIANS: [Remain in silent prayer.]
GUARD #2: [Banging away at the cell] Did you hear me? Get up!
ENUS: Sir, they are praying.
GUARD #2: [Moved, turns to the table and waits]
PONTUS: [As the prayer breaks up] Sir, we are ready
GUARD #2: [Getting up] Good. All men over forty are required. [Opening the cell door]
LIONIUS, INON, PONTUS, AND THIMUS MOVE TO THE CELL DOOR.
INON: You must stay here with the others.
ENUS: [Hugging his father leg] Father!?
GUARD #2: [Starting to pull Enus from Inon]
INON: [Stopping the guard] He is my son. He will not understand my leaving him. Can he go with me?
GUARD #2: [Momentary pause then nodding his approval]
INON: [Kneeling and picking up his child] Come son, you can go too.
LUCIUS: [Grabbing his father as he exits] Father!
THIMIUS: Remember. There can be no comprise on your faith, son. Jesus is with you. God bless you son.
LUCIUS: Father, I will pray for you and the others!
GUARD #2: [Marches the group out of the dungeon, stage left.]
SOUND: The sound of trumpets and cheers are heard.
LUCIUS: [Kneeling in prayer] Oh Lord God Jesus, where are you now? Where are your healing hands and your powerful touch? Where is the love that I have been promised? Oh, where are you now? I am not cut from the same material as my sister who loved you so much; who looked death in the face and greeted it lovingly. Nor am I like my step-mother who braved the flames. I ask that you strengthen me now Jesus, strengthen me!
LIGHTS COME DOWN LOW
CHRISTIANS: [Sit about the walls of the cell talking.]
BETITIUS: They fed us well last night, so they must have something special planned for us today.
ELIAS: I would not be surprised at what they will come up with.
BETITIUS: Let us be strong, brother.
LUCIUS: [Jumping to his feet] We need to be more than strong, brothers. We need to be ready to act.
ELIAS: Act? How?
LUCIUS: I donít know, just yet. We just have to think.
BETITIUS: What about overpowering the guard when he comes to get us.
LUCIUS: Sure! We can work out a plan and devise our escape.
JOHN: [Slowly bringing himself to his feet] And what will you do with him; once you have overpowered him?
ELIAS: [Jumping to his feet] Yes, what then?
LUCIUS: John, you be our leader. Guide us to what ever it is that we must do.
BETITIUS: [Standing up.] Yes, John.
JOHN: Are you so eager to give up all that you have learned just to follow me?
LUCIUS: Yes! What do we have to loose?
ELIAS: You are our elder, so we will follow you.
JOHN: Will you? Will you do as I instruct you?
JOHN: [Sitting back down] Then do nothing.
JOHN: If you believe in me, and you still believe and trust in Jesus, then do nothing. Do no harm to these people, in any fashion.
ELIAS: Then Lucius, you lead us!
BETITIUS: Yeah, Lucius. You lead us.
LUCIUS: [Troubled] Where can I lead you? Iím like you a merchantís son, what do I know of war and fighting? With out John we are lost.
ELIAS: John? Help us.
BETITIUS: We will make every attempt not to hurt anyone, just get out of here. All you have to do is help us by leading us.
JOHN: I am trying to now. What good would it do you if you returned evil for evil sake.
LUCIUS: Is it evil to struggle against the evil that is already around you? Are we not already lost just sitting here waiting on the guard to come and get us?
JOHN: In the eyes of the Lord you will be lost if you do this evil.
ELIAS: Help us John?
JOHN: If you overpower the guard, what then? Who knows the way out of this dungeon to safety? How many more will you have to overpower? No, no how many will you have to kill to save yourself?
ELIAS: Then what do we do?
JOHN: What good would it do you, if you lost your souls today and lived? Are you not dead all ready? In Christ you live; in Christ you have life. If I were to lead you, it would be to choose Christ and reject this evil.
BETITIUS: We have chosen Christ and rejected evil, but we canít understand why we are here suffering as we do?
LUCIUS: Then what are we to do?
JOHN: [Jumping to his feet] There is a reason for the pains that we are going through. There is more to this than just our struggle for life today. From the foundation of this world, the evil one has declared war against the children of God; deceiving, lying, and murdering the children of God. Now with our foundation re-established through the blood of Jesus Christ to our God Almighty that war has become ours. All that you see, all that you feel is part of that war. If you were able to free yourselves today, you would have to forget all that Christ has taught you; abandon your faith, and join the one we struggle against.
ELIAS: So, all that we can look forward to is death?
JOHN: Listen closely. When I was a child my family lived near Jerusalem. And one day while visiting the city, I saw a large crowd coming out of the temple shouting and screaming, pushing a young man down the street. My father and I joined that crowd to see what was going on. They pushed that young man out of the city and stoned him to death. I later learned that young man was a Christian. But there were two things I remember most from that experience. The words of that young man being stoned, saying Father forgive them for they know not what they do and the face of the man holding the coats of those who stoned the young man. That face, I later knew as Paul, but then he was known as Saul.
BETITIUS: Father Paul, the teacher?
JOHN: Yes, somewhere, between Saul and Paul, that young man and Jesus touched a troubled soul and out of which we gained an excellent witness to the love of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. So, I ask you, I beg you consider what you do. Do not fall into the arms of the evil that is around you, but cling to the everlasting word of God and live.
ELIAS: But brother, it is so hard to do.
JOHN: Nothing that is worth holding on to is ever easy. But you have the blessings of your savior Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit to strengthen you. Lucius there is a reason for you today to cling to the Love of God. Before this day is through you will know it.
ELIAS: Lead us in a word of prayer for strength, forgiveness, and that His will be done.
BETITIUS: Yes, let us pray.
ELIAS, BETITIUS, & JOHN GATHER IN THE CENTER OF THE CELL KNEELING IN SILENT PRAYER, LUCIUS MOVES TO A CORNER.
LUCIUS: Oh Lord Jesus, hear my prayer. I know you as my savior, my Christ, my Lord. I confess my faith in you and commit my will to thee. Renew your spirit into me that I might face this day with all the love you have for me. Bless me oh Lord with the understanding that I desire, that this my life is not lost but established in the building of your kingdom. This I ask, this I pray, in your saving name I ask it all, amen.
GUARD #2: [Enters, stage left with a sword in his hand] All of you, lets go; now.
THE PRAYER COMES TO AN END, THEY RAISE WITH HUGS
GUARD #2: [Unlocking the cell door.] I see that the fears of my commander was without foundation. They feared that you might try to break free and they are all waiting for you. Lets go.
THE GROUP EXITS THE STAGE, STAGE LEFT LEAVING LUCIUS IN SPOT LIGHT.
LIGHTS: Come down to a spot light.
SOUND: Wild cheers.
LUCIUS: [Center stage. Begins to smile] Yes, I understand now my Lord. My life was never lost, you have already saved me and this flesh I freely give up, but this I suffer now is not to my benefit. [Pointing up, as if seeing the people] but it is for you, and you, and you, and you. To the saving of others, that is why I am here. Use me Lord to the building of your kingdom. Praise God!, Praise God!! Praise God! [Exits the stage, stage left]