Roger Bruner's Official Website
Roger E. Bruner's Little Home on the Web
Roger Bruner's Internet Home


Two Masters: A Dramatic Monolog

Spoken by an actor portraying Judas Iscariot.

You! Yes, you there in the audience! You’re Christians, aren’t you? And you think you’ve got me cornered. ‘There is Judas Iscariot,’ you say. ‘Look at him: so alone, so defenseless.

Yes, I am. There is no escape for me. I did the one thing you can never forgive me for: I killed your Savior. And you HATE me now. He was your Savior of Love, but you have learned to hate. The Devil has done his work well in you, too.

I’m sorry. I’m such a ham, and I really do get carried away sometimes. I certainly didn’t mean to antagonize you. I’m afraid someone has deluded you into thinking you were going to see a play here this evening. Well, I’m not much of an actor (as you can see!), but feel free to stay and listen to me for a while if you like. I’m rehearsing my lines about events in the life of Judas Iscariot. You can always leave later, if it offends you too much. Me: I’m stuck. I can’t walk out in the middle of this play no matter what I think. I have to finish out my part as if…as if God himself were here to see me. I guess he’d be more critical than you.

Uh, let’s see: where did I leave off? Umm? Oh, yeah. Did you know I’ve been a beggar all my life? No, not the kind who walks up to you in the street and asks for a handout, but—you know—the kind who is always looking for something he doesn’t have and can’t quite seem to find. He asks everyone he meets for the way to find the meaning in life, but most people just turn the other way and keep on walking. I guess they’d be beggars, too, if they cared enough.

I met someone I believed to be a beggar once, a few years ago, but there was such a difference between him and me. Instead of asking the questions, he was going around giving out the answers! In fact, he started me on something I’ve never completely gotten over: he introduced me to Jesus.

When Jesus looked at me, I felt that he read me between the lines, clear through the doubts and frustrations, and he saw something deep inside worthy of being strengthened and developed. When he said, ‘Come,’ I believed that something special was about to happen. Being with Jesus gave me a feeling of well-being I had never known before. Although his talk of ‘fishing for men’ sounded strange to me, even so I felt a new calm as he took us with him, teaching and training us on-the-job, as it were, for some purpose however vague. He taught us about love and forgiveness, about truth, honor, and mercy. And he talked about God: always, always more talk of God. Because we saw in Christ’s life qualities we realized were qualities of God, we began to understand God much more clearly than we ever had before.

In fact, we began to suspect that Jesus was far more than we had realized at first, and we talked among ourselves and pondered, ‘Who is he? What does he really want from us? What will he have us to do?’ It dawned on us—slowly: He was our Messiah, the Lamb of God, the Annointed One. God himself?

That was our hang-up. Messiah was hard enough to believe, but I doubt that any one of us really thought of Jesus as being divine. It just couldn’t be. Really, we saw him as…uh, as a king. Then—as now—we were under the control of the Roman Empire. We hated it, and we thought that Jesus had been sent to be our Deliverer.

The people, too, they desperately wanted him for a king. We pleaded with him so many times to lead a rebellion against Rome. But he refused and continued teaching us about love and forgiveness, about truth, honor, mercy…and always, always more talk of God.

Moreover, whenever we pressured him about leading us against Rome, he would rebuke us with a strange and frightening authority. ‘Get out of my way, Satan!’ he demanded, and—when he spoke that way—we realized just how much power must lie within such a man as this Christ.

It was around this period of time that I began to have real problems. Old feelings of anxiety and frustration began to reappear in me, feelings and thoughts that had been buried since I first became a follower of Christ. I looked around me at the wickedness that existed in the world. I looked at the prosperity of evil men, and I became obsessed with jealousy over their apparent success. I realized that I had hidden myself from this world’s rewards by choosing to walk obscurely with just a good man like Jesus.

My outlook became more worldly. I grew ashamed of my poverty, of the plainness which characterized my outer life. I sought hungrily for some way to better my situation, little caring whether it might some day destroy me.

I began to steal from the money bag, of which I was the trusted keeper. The other disciples never said anything; I don’t think they even realized what I was doing. I almost wished to be discovered just so someone might recognize just how wickedly clever I was becoming. Someone knew all right. It was Jesus.

Oh, he continued to teach about love and forgiveness, about truth, honor, and mercy…about God. And it wasn’t just habit for him; he really meant it. But when he told us about the man who tore down his barns and built bigger ones to store up wealth for an uncertain future, he looked at me in such a knowing way that I had to turn away to keep from blushing. What I didn’t realize then, however, was that he wasn’t trying to embarrass me; he just wanted to change my life for the better.

Jesus saw that I was not changing, however, and he began an entirely different approach. He told us that a man could not serve two masters, that he would love the one and hate the other, that he would cling to the one and despise the other.

It was true, too. I really began to hate Jesus. I despised his love and his goodness. I resented his ability to withstand all kinds of abuse. And I loathed his relationship to the God who kept me from getting ahead in this life.

I never used to believe in Satan. I mean, let’s face it: Satan is a pretty primitive sounding concept. But so is God. Yet God is very real. And so is Satan. I know, because Satan became my new Master. He filled me—me the beggar!—just as Jesus had, with new ideas, new concepts, new motives, new methods. Our hatred of Jesus formed our mutual bond. Whereas Jesus had seemed so naïve—hidden from the world by truth and honor and forgiveness, by honor and mercy—Satan seemed to hold all the cards over the things that really mattered to me. Would you believe—Satan even had me put on the act of pretending to continue on as a follower of Jesus?

Christ was aware of the change, and several times I saw him praying and weeping for me. For me, mind you! The fool! He should have wept for himself!

I was so angered by this seeming weakness on Jesus’ part that the Devil just finally came right out and suggested that we find some legal looking way to get Jesus off my back for good. I jumped at the chance!

The Jewish religious leaders were followers of Satan, too, though like most people, they didn’t realize it. We framed Jesus, and it was a beautiful plan. The satisfaction along was worth it, but the Devil—faithful friend—even managed to have me paid for my help.

I grew in amazement at Jesus, however. He seemed to know my mind. He was aware of the plot, he knew he would die because of my treachery, and yet he continued loving me!

I hated him even more then, and the joy borne of evil dissolved into the nagging depression of conscience. How often I tempted him to hate me back! But he couldn’t do it. It just wasn’t part of his nature.

Blinded by growing confusion, there were times I could barely function. But my mind was clear when I betrayed Jesus. It’s so strange: I never felt closer to the man than at that time. Then, in an instant, I realized that the Devil had done his very worst through me. I had gained nothing but hell for myself and a blackened name to leave to the gossip of history.

I became a beggar again, but this time I was the mule starving between two bales of hay, unable to choose either. I thought Christ to be destroyed—and therefore not the answer. And yet, could the Devil be my answer, either? The Devil whose laughter thundered at me for my feelings of guilt!

I thought back to that time when I first came to know Jesus. I remember how happy and satisfied I had felt. I remember the love and the feeling that nothing in my past mattered. I thought…

If only Christ were alive to forgive and forget!

But I killed him! I killed the preacher, the teacher. I killed the physician, my friend! And he can’t forgive me, not now. He’s dead, he’s gone. Perhaps my answer did lie in him, but I destroyed him! I feel so hopeless…

I can’t finish this play. I’m sorry. I know the ending all too well. It always ends the same way, and then I must live it beginning to ending all over again. At this point, I’m supposed to go out of here screaming like a madman, acting out Judas’ psychotic guilt. Then I’m supposed to fling my silver coins back into the face of the Devil himself so-to-speak and then go hang myself in remorse, never realizing that Christ would be raised from death.

Did I mention that this play always ends the same way? Well, then, perhaps you’ll forgive me if—this time—I just go quietly to my room and pray.

Roger E. Bruner