Playing the Part

When I was a teenager, my aunt Jenifer began directing a production called “Celebrating a Savior.” The drama was a unique presentation in that it was set to music and each of the cast members wore the white makeup that is commonly associated with clowns. But the cast members were not true clowns; their performance was not comedic in any nature but more of a dramatic portrayal. The production tells the story of Jesus from His birth, life and ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.
As a fifteen-year-old, I was cast as one of the ten lepers healed by Jesus during His ministry. It was a challenging role for me to play because I had to dance and leap off the stage upon being healed, and since I am visually impaired, I was always concerned that the blinding spotlight would play tricks on my eyes and I would go tumbling off the stage and seriously get hurt. I was so stressed out by the part that I enlisted the help of the other cast members.
“Make sure I don’t get too close to the edge of the stage,” I would tell the others. “Someone, please grab my hand so we can run off stage together. Please, don’t forget about me!”
At one point, I asked Jenifer why she hadn’t cast me as the blind man who is healed by Jesus. “I could play that part so well,” I told her. She responded that she didn’t want to type cast, and although I could see her point, I was still frustrated with the role I had to play. There was only one role that I felt I could portray well in the show and that was immediately after the intermission/ offering.
Since I wasn’t needed onstage during the crucifixion scene, I joined a few other cast members in sitting sporadically through the audience as the scene began. At the appropriate time, the cast members rose to their feet in the crowd, raised their hands, and portrayed the outcry: “Crucify Him!” Oh, how easy it was for me to follow the cue in the music and respond with that one simple action! You see, the cast prayed before each show and we gave our voices up to God. So for a blind girl who relies on auditory cues, a production such as this was challenging for me. But “Crucify Him!” was uncomplicated and only took about five seconds.
I happened to catch a performance of this same production just last week, and memories of that Spring in my freshman year of high school came back to me. I watched the cast members in the roles I used to play and one line from a scene leapt into my consciousness:
“Forced to play in this drama a part I did not wish to play…”
This line from the crucifixion scene and “Watch the Lamb” suddenly had new meaning for me. I heard a child crying in the row behind me, and I turned my head slightly to make sure he or she was okay. The sanctuary was dark, but I could see the child’s head turned and their eyes directed toward the Jesus figure making His way down the center aisle with the cross upon His back. My eyes misted with tears when I through about the child’s tender heart. He or she must have come to terms with the gravity of Jesus’ sacrifice, and it forced me to come full circle.
I thought about the lepers healed by Jesus earlier in the show and how only one of those lepers had come back to thank Him. I remembered how stressful playing that role had been for me, and how in real life, it was just as hard. Sometimes, I don’t stop to thank the Lord for everything He has given to me. I go about my day, from here to there, hardly pausing to talk to Him unless I have some urgent need. Thankfulness is not always on my lips or at the center of my heart, and it pained me to come to that realization that night as I sat and watched the show.
I found it was still far too easy to raise my hand up, point toward Jesus, and cry out “Crucify Him!” No, I have not actually said those words, but I found I crucify Him a little each day with the careless words I say, my sinful deeds, and oftentimes hiding the knowledge that I know Him at all. I thought about the people in Jerusalem who praised and honored Him on Palm Sunday, only to turn their backs on Him on Friday as He was led to be crucified. Some authors and commentators have said that maybe this was due to the fact that expectations were unfulfilled. Instead of coming as an earthly king to deliver the people from taxation and government rule, Christ came as a King not of this world. The people were confused and longing for the Messiah. He had come, only many chose not to believe.
I thought about how easy it can be to walk away when Jesus doesn’t meet our expectations today. Maybe our prayers seem to go unanswered or His plan doesn’t make any sense. It can be so easy to love and praise Him when things are going well, but when hard times come, we can tend to walk away because it seems He isn’t coming through for us. Depending on the situation, we can also tend to respond like Peter and deny His presence in our lives.
I don’t want to play the part of a townsperson anymore. I don’t want to be a Peter. I want to be the thankful leper instead— the only leper who came running back to Jesus with a grateful heart just to say “thank you.” I want to enter into this resurrection season, and every day, with the knowledge that Jesus paid the ultimate price for me. It is a sacrifice beyond any I could ever comprehend in earthly terms. But even though I will never understand fully, I can still believe and hold to the greatest promise of all: He is risen and has given His life for me that I might have eternal life!

One thought on “Playing the Part

  1. Wow your post today so parallels the movie we just saw!! I will be with you as we stand up for him, not walk away from him, remember to be thankful and live a life that says GOD’S NOT DEAD!!! Love ya Cassie! Mama Dori

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