What really happened?
by Helen Bryant (revised, originally published in 2011)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore different theories about Jesus’ resurrection.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and nine readers to take the parts of the Newsreader, Reporter, Mary, Peter, Person 1, Person 2, Person 3, Person 4 and Person 5. You will need to practise the script before the assembly.
- Have available the BBC News theme tune and the means to play it during the assembly. A version is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TSJhIZmL0A. It is 0.15 minutes long.
- Accounts of the resurrection can be found in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20.
Play the BBC News theme tune.
Newsreader (at a news desk): Good morning and welcome to BBC News. Our main headline today: a man has risen from the dead after three days. (Newsreader freezes)
Leader: What do you think? Would you change the channel, thinking, ‘Yeah, whatever!’, or would you want to hear what the newsreader has to say?
Newsreader: In an amazing turn of events, the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, who was executed by the Romans for dissension, are claiming that he has risen from the dead. We cross to our reporter in Jerusalem, at the site of the garden tomb.
Reporter: Amazing scenes here in Jerusalem where, as you can see, the tombstone has indeed been rolled away with no obvious sign of a body within. I am standing here, next to the empty tomb where, just three days ago, Jesus was buried. Jesus’ followers are convinced that he has been resurrected and defeated death.
Mary: I saw him. I thought he was the gardener. But no! He knew my name; it was really him.
Peter: It’s true, I tell you! The body has gone; there is nothing left but grave clothes, and the huge stone has been rolled away!
Reporter: Not everyone believes that Jesus has risen from the dead, though, and the Jewish and Roman authorities are keen to dispel the dangerous rumour.
Person 1: I don’t believe it. It’s nonsense! No one can survive crucifixion! I think the women who came to anoint the body went to the wrong tomb!
Person 2: Well, I don’t think Jesus really died on that cross. He probably survived, bribed the soldiers or something and then escaped. He simply pretended he was dead so that he could pull this stunt!
Person 3: I’m not so sure you can trust those disciples, you know. I reckon they’ve stolen the body and hidden it. Then, in order to cover their guilt, they’ve invented this story to say that Jesus rose from the dead. Honestly, whoever heard of someone coming back from the dead!
Person 4: I saw his followers after the crucifixion. Crazed with grief they were, proper crazy! Tears, sobbing, a right carry-on. But grief can do funny things to people, you know; they’ve probably had hallucinations – seeing him when he wasn’t there.
Person 5: Well, I can’t think that they’d lie. Maybe Jesus could have risen from the dead. Maybe he was as powerful as he said.
Reporter: Well, what do you think is the best explanation? I guess we’ll never know, and it will be up to individuals to make their own decisions on the matter.
Leader: So, the resurrection, the reason for Easter holidays and the key underlining belief of Christianity - which do you think is the best explanation?
Time for reflection
The question remains, of course, that if the resurrection isn’t true, why would so many people talk about it and believe in it or, alternatively, lie about it?
Something monumental must have occurred for the disciples to make such claims. For most of them, and for many early followers of Christianity, their belief in Jesus’ resurrection was so strong that they were prepared to be martyred for their faith. Their strong belief led them to try to spread that faith throughout the world.
Obviously, in the end, it comes down to belief. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God and used that power to defeat death and be resurrected. The choice, and the belief, is up to you.
‘Lord of the dance’ (Come and Praise, 22) or any other Easter song