In this play, I return to the home of Susanna’s husband, the broadminded Pharisee who invited Jesus to his home in The Women, but the atmosphere is completely different. The lectionary reading upon which this play is based is an odd one: Luke 14:1,7-14. The story itself is found in verses 7-14, but the first verse from the chapter is tacked on to it, as a kind of prologue. And what does that prologue say? That Jesus was being carefully watched by the other Pharisees at the time.
Thus, a note of foreboding is introduced into all the subsequent proceedings. It’s a note that’s really in the background of all the stories, as Jesus works his slow and winding way toward his fate in Jerusalem, but it’s specifically sounded in this reading, and so I use it to drive much of the action of the play. Jesus unleashes an oddly harsh sermon based on an oddly cynical premise. A disciple decides to drop out, while another who was planning to leave decides to stay. And James continues to completely misunderstand what will happen once they get to Jerusalem.