The story begins at Jacob’s well near the Samarian village of Sychar. Jesus, His disciples, and friends have stopped to rest from their long journey across the plains of Shechem on the way to Galilee. They have been traveling on the Samaritan Road. Jesus has purposely taken this route to help his disciples understand how their prejudice against the Samaritans is unwarranted. The travelers leave Jesus to rest while they go into the city to purchase food. Julia (the name we’ve given to the “woman at the well” )enters and meets Jesus for the first time. The ensuing conversation follows closely the biblical account. When Julia realizes who Jesus is she drops everything and runs into the city to tell her friends. She assures Jesus she will be back. Jesus’ disciples encounter Julia as they return from the city and initially shun her. Jesus sets them straight and the lyrics in the spirited song that follows exposes the epiphany each of them has:
Suddenly, Jesus saw my need; suddenly!
Loving me completely, guaranteed; suddenly!
Jesus filled the void, suddenly,
Now I’m overjoyed…suddenly!
Of all my sins and bondage, I’ve been freed!
The story then continues in the house of Mary and Martha. Lazarus is away on business and his two sisters, along with Julia, have a discussion regarding Martha’s lack of “domestic giftings.” Julia is being grafted into the inner circle but feels awkward. Jesus, Peter, James, and John stop by for a meal. Trouble begins when Mary burns the fish and bread and Peter puts his foot in his mouth by “trying not to notice.” Some delightful comedy follows.
After supper Jesus’ friends ask Him to share a story and to teach them. He recounts the parable of the sower. (The playwright believes that Jesus would not necessarily have told the parables only once but likely shared them with various groups and at different times.) Each of the people present assures Jesus that they want His guidance and direction. The scene ends with a lyric song entitled “Teach Me Lord” in which Jesus sings a tender counter melody assuring His disciples and friends He will guide, teach, and love them to the end.
Later, Mary and Martha share a word of explanation with Julia about how brothers and sisters don’t always communicate well and sometimes even argue. The three then sing a playful trio called “Busy Bees.” It is Julia’s turn to joyfully share her passion of both loving and blessing the Lord through “busily” serving Him. During the course of the song the ladies admit you have to be careful not to be “so busy being busy” that you miss the joy of willingly, cheerfully, and joyfully sitting at Jesus’ feet.
Following the song Jesus and several of his disciples enter. Jesus’ friends press Him to share more of God’s truth with them. So, He shares several more stories and parables finishing with the story of the lost sheep and the parable of the prodigal son. Jesus is trying to teach his disciples forgiveness. Ultimately they do ask him to teach them to forgive, love, and to pray. The scene ends with a song entitled “A Servant’s Prayer.” This new melody, set to a familiar scripture (Matthew 6: “Our Father, which art in heaven…”), is fresh and inspiring.
Soon, Jesus, His disciples, and friends travel to Jerusalem. They stop at the city gates near the Mount of Olives. It is here that these faithful companions, who have loved Jesus and dedicated their lives to Him, begin to learn of His pending fate…and, perhaps, their own. Peter is distressed to hear about his imminent denial of Christ. The others try to argue with Jesus. Even Jesus’ mother Mary, who is also traveling with Him, is nearly inconsolable.
Though they don’t fully understand all that is about to happen they’re heartened when Jesus encourages them to continue to love each other and to love the world…and to share that love with everyone. The final song in Act I (“Everlasting Life”) is energetic and optimistic. The lyrics are based on John 3:16.
Act II opens in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is there with his disciples. He is hurt that they are unable to stay awake and pray with him and says, “Peter, James, John; could you not stay awake and pray with me just this once? The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. My heart is heavy with grief. Stay with me a little longer and pray, for the enemy lurks…waiting to catch you unaware.” Jesus then sings “Your Will Be Done.” This emotional and powerful song echoes Jesus’ deepest agony as He struggles with these dire circumstances.
“…Oh Father, I pray You’ll take this cup, please take it from Me.
But Your will, not My will; let My shed blood set them all free.…”
Following this powerful song voices are heard in the distance. Judas, in his infamous betrayal, leads soldiers and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees to the garden where Jesus is praying. All the disciples run; John is the last to go. Then Jesus, seeing even his beloved John cower in fear, buries his face in his hands and weeps bitterly as the light go to black.
The playwright chose to use the familiar hymn, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” to help convey the agony felt by Jesus, His friends, and His disciples as He carried the cross to Calvary. The entire cast is scattered across the stage as they sing. Jesus slowly and painfully drags His cross along stopping briefly in front of each person as they remember their time together. Peter, the last in succession, stands apart from the others. His exchange with Jesus is heartbreaking.
The Crucifixion. During the previous blackout scene change music is played with the chilling hammer against nail woven throughout. Then, as the lights slowly come up Jesus is seen hanging silently on the cross; the women are at His feet; James and John are with them. Peter watches from afar hiding behind some bushes. Various characters express their deepest sorrow and recount the terrible treatment Jesus was given by both the Roman soldiers and His own people. Again, the playwright uses a classic song (Surely He Hath Borne our Griefs) to express, through music, the depth of their sorrow. The effect is riveting. At song’s end Jesus speaks, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Jesus agonizes on the cross as he sings “Calvary’s Cry.” Those left at the foot of the cross agonize with Him. Their world has become meaningless and empty; they are lost. Jesus their Savior is dying before them; they are shattered and feel helpless. The melody Jesus sings is gripping, haunting; His voice is full of passion.
“Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they do.
Do not forsake me; O Father, I need You!
Give Me strength; don’t turn away. Hear My cry this final day.
My death on this cross is to save you; I love you,
My blood shed for you: the last sacrifice! I’m paying the price!. . .”
At song’s end Jesus cries out in anguish, “My God, My God; why have You forsaken Me?! His breathing becomes more labored. “Into Your hands…I commend My spirit.” Jesus gasps for air. “It…is…FINISHED!! At the end of His final exhale Jesus drops his head. At once there is a lightning flash and thunder clap: JESUS is dead. PETER is heard above all the others weeping and crying out, “No, no!”
Sorrow is short lived because the very next scene is the resurrection of Jesus. In the black the tomb has been put into place. Before any lights come up we hear rumbling. It is the sound of an earthquake. Lights begin to flash and a heartbeat is heard. Jesus is being raised from the dead! As the music swells lights within the tomb begin to flash. At last Jesus appears at the door of the tomb and sings:
I am the Resurrection, I am the Life!
I am the First and Last, the Way, Truth, and Life!
Where is your sting, O Death? No victory, O Grave?
I am the Risen Christ! I’ve come to heal and save!
For I am the Resurrection! I am the Life!
I am the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ, the Lord!
The lights go black.
Even though Peter knows Jesus has been resurrected he is devastated. His cowardice has been revealed and he is unsure whether he can live with himself. Jesus has risen from the dead but Peter is convinced he can never be forgiven. John is packing to leave for Galilee where Jesus told them to meet. Peter, reluctant to go, lingers after John departs. Peter reminisces about his relationship with Jesus and sings of his remorse in the lyric and sorrowful song “There is Nothing I Can Do.”
“…I thought my love for You was strong.
You had taught me right from wrong.
But like a coward, I deserted You.
And now there’s nothing I can do.
Now there’s nothing I can do.
Lord, there’s nothing I can do….”
At the end of the song Jesus appears at Peter’s side. Peter is so shocked, so sorrowful, so embarrassed, he can barely look Jesus in the eye. Of course Jesus forgives Peter and assures him of His love.
In the finale the composer has masterfully blended the two songs: “What He’s Done for Me” and ”I am the Resurrection!” As the lights fade up the cast bursts onto the set. Midway through the song Jesus appears and sings the lyrics to “I am the Resurrection.” The music is joyful, uplifting, and triumphant. Jesus is the Resurrection and the life! He is risen—He is Risen indeed!
Where do you begin to tell the story of all stories—about the King of all Kings? Jesus was both man and deity. He could relate to us because of His humanity and He could save us because He was willing to go to the cross and shed His blood. The resurrection of Jesus is a magnificent reality. The blend of human interest in For God So Loved and the sheer power of the crucifixion and resurrection leaves the audience without a dry eye and UP ON THEIR FEET at the end of every performance!!
The running time of this musical is about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours if done in its entirely. The length can be shortened significantly with simple cuts in several of the longer scenes. There are 12 powerful songs in the show including solos, a trio, and multiple choral numbers.
Cast of Characters
Julia* (the woman at the well)
* Principle Character
Unlimited number of male and female chorus members.
THE USE OF A CHORUS
A chorus can easily be incorporated into this musical. Though the original production did not utilize one, a chorus of virtually any size could be added to a number of the scenes throughout the musical. This show was written with versatility in mind. Some churches have large drama departments…but the majority do not. The beauty of this show is that the cast can be as small as seven, or, you can expand it to include dozens. For example, because the script flows naturally, and all the scenes feel as though they are lifted straight from the pages of the Bible, the audience never seems to “miss” the other disciples if they are not in all the scenes with Jesus. At the discretion of each director, and, as your talent pool allows, it would be quite simple to add in as many disciples and women as you deem suitable to various scenes. Children and additional townspeople can also be added to multiple scenes.
The script is written in such a way that it is easy to do the entire show as written with a cast of just seven. Or, you can add countless people to many of the scenes and expand your cast to 30, 40, or more. The choral numbers are even more dynamic when performed with a large choir.
SET AND PROP REQUIREMENTS
In this musical sets are needed for Mary and Martha’s house, John’s house, the tomb, Calvary, and the garden scene. All are easy to construct and/or create. As with all of our musicals the sets can be very simple using only minimal scenery. (The audience is very good at “filling in the blanks.”) However, if you have the skill (or know those that do) you can make the sets as elaborate as you choose. The “DIRECTOR’S NOTES” (40 plus pages in length) that come with all of our Production Kits will give you excellent suggestions on how to construct and paint the sets you’ll want for this show. Our “DIRECTOR’S NOTES” also contain useful information regarding costumes, props, and wigs. It also deals with makeup, staging, and casting. Sample pictures of sets used in the original production of this, and many other Gloria Emmerich musicals, can be found by going to the photo gallery on this website.