The Bitter Cup

The Bitter Cup

A Story by Ruth Carter
"

Salome, the mother of John and James, is mourning the death of Jesus. This is a dramatic monologue that takes place early Sunday morning, as she prepares to go to the tomb.

"

The Bitter Cup

So this is the cup. The bitter cup of sorrow he was about to drink.

I want nothing of it. Do you hear me? Nothing!

It’s a horror beyond my worst nightmare.

I’ve seen death before. The fisherman who never returned. The child lost to fever. The young woman dead in childbirth. The traveler, attacked by thieves.

And in this land ruled by foreign tyrants, I’ve seen executions before. The air of Palestine reeks with the stench of spilled blood.

Yes, I’ve seen death before.

But this. This was the death of Jesus! Innocent of any crime, he taught us the ways of God. He brought us healing, life, love, hope!

Crucified on a whim. Where was the justice, God? Where was the right? And where were You? He claimed You as Father! Where were You? Were You there when He cried out, "My God, my God, why have you deserted me?" He died. The sun darkened. The earth shook. All nature cried out. He died. Where were You? Were You there?

The bitter cup. A desolation. A criminal’s death of shame. He was the Messiah. He could have been King. Should have been King. He is dead. He cannot be first now. He must be last. His death ended all hope. There will be no Kingdom. He is last, he who could have been King.

And my boys, James and John? They should have been right there beside him. I even asked him, "Put my sons on your right and on your left when you come into your kingdom." They are good boys. I wanted the best for them. It’s what every mother wants for her sons.

I could never understand Jesus. He spoke in riddles. He replied, "If you want to be a ruler, you must first become a slave."

A slave. That’s all we have ever known! We are slaves to the Romans who lord it over us. Slaves to the Sanhedrin, the toadies of Rome. I want better than that for my sons. How can a slave be a king? It can’t happen. A slave can’t be king. The last can’t be first.

That was something else he said. "The first shall be last. The last shall be first." He talked like that all the time. I could never understand him.

I don’t understand him. He let them take him. He was King, the Messiah. He didn’t have to die like that.

Those other times—when the elders came to kill him—he walked away. It was like he melted through the crowd. Those evil men couldn’t touch him. The time was not complete, Jesus said, for the prophecies to be fulfilled. What prophecies?

When they came this time, why did he let them take him? When he stood before his accusers, why did he say nothing? Like a sheep, he was! A sheep who says nothing. Like a lamb, mute before its shearers. A lamb. Mute before its shearers. Like the prophecy! Could that be the prophecy he meant? Was Isaiah talking about the Messiah? What else did he say? I am no scholar. I do not easily remember these—wait! I have it! "He was wounded." Yes, "he was wounded for"—what was it? "For our transgressions"! Oh, my God! Is this the Messiah? Is this Jesus? "He was bruised for our iniquities"? Jesus was bruised. The nails were driven savagely into his hands and feet. The spear ripped his side. He was wounded. Was all that pain, that anguish, for our sins?

There’s more. It’s coming back to me. "The punishment of our sin is upon him." Could that be? He chose that death? He let them arrest him? He allowed the nails, the cross, that soul-destroying despair? He did that for me? He took the punishment meant for me? Ohhh! Oh, my Jesus, my Lord Jesus!

How does the scripture continue? Yes, yes. "By his stripes we are healed." His poor back, bleeding from the cruel lash of the whip. The stripes of blood and torn, lacerated flesh. By his stripes I am healed. Is this true? First he takes my punishment. Then he heals me.

He chose the bitter cup for me. For me! He came to serve. Not to be served. Oh, how wrong I was! I am like that other sheep. The one gone astray, who wanted things her way.

Oh, God! Is this what he meant? Did he accept the degradation of that horrible death for my sake? Did he become a slave for me? Did he become last that I might be first? Is that his service? Is that the cup of sorrow?

Oh, God, I don’t want to be first! I don’t want to rule! I just want Jesus to be King! I love him. I loved him as he performed his signs and wonders. I loved him when he entered the city on the donkey in such glory. I loved him when I thought he had come to re-establish the throne of David. And I loved him as he hung on the cross, stripped of all dignity, scorned, humiliated. I loved him. I love him. I want him to be my King. I will be his servant. That’s all. Let me be the lowliest of slaves if he can but be my King, my Master, my—my God. If that means I must be last, make me last, God! Just let me serve him! Let me share the bitter cup. Let me go down to death with him. Let him be first. First, central and foremost in my life. Let me serve him.

 

I know of only one last service I may do him. I go now to the tomb. I will anoint his poor, broken body with spices. It’s all I can do. How I wish I could do more!

I drink of the cup. The bitter cup of sorrow.

© 2009 Ruth Carter


Author's Note

Ruth Carter
This is an oral performance piece.

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Featured Review


Shakespeare did a lot of such performances...
Sorrow does tend to make a person not understand
the gift of salvation as it was predicted to take place
we see a rather selfishness on


Salome, the mother of John and James,

[as she mourns] the death of Jesus


This is quite a dialogue we seldom see on the other side from Salvation takes place
It's a wonderful piece!!

Posted 11 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Response to Sara: Yes, I've performed it a few times -- memorized, with costume and props and everything! I see your point about the poetic inversions -- I didn't have trouble with them, but I've been conditioned to that kind of construction. that's what I appreciate about you Sara -- you can identify sthe strengths and weaknesses. I can see how a simpler syntax would add to the piece -- especially since Salome, as the wife of a fisherman, probably wasn't all that sophisticated in her language!

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I really like the way this encapsulates the moment and crystallizes the emotional feelings that Salome must have had, and the way it brings in the Messianic prophecies of Isaiah 53 and gives them a palpable, gritty reality. Have you read this aloud? As an oral piece, I thought there were a couple of places that were difficult to speak. Lovely poetic syntax: "I go now to the tomb", "if he can but be my King," etc. But I have a sense that the syntactical inversions are hard to say aloud. I would rather see you add flavor/color with eloquent well-chosen words, than through elegant constructions. Personal preference, perhaps, but I'm thinking about the flow when an actress actually tries to say those sentences.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Shakespeare did a lot of such performances...
Sorrow does tend to make a person not understand
the gift of salvation as it was predicted to take place
we see a rather selfishness on


Salome, the mother of John and James,

[as she mourns] the death of Jesus


This is quite a dialogue we seldom see on the other side from Salvation takes place
It's a wonderful piece!!

Posted 11 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


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Added on January 11, 2009

Author

Ruth Carter
Ruth Carter

Cottage Country, Ontario, Canada



About
Always a storyteller, whether it's writing, singing or acting! And, to quote Fanny Crosby, "I love to tell the story of Jesus and His love"! more..

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