Newsnight - The night before Jesus died

by Jane And Mark Lewis
Potted JAM
Copyright © 1994, 2007 Jane And Mark Lewis. Email:



This sketch was written as a mechanism to get across some of the information about Jesus' trial - in particular the irregularities that rendered it little more than a kangaroo court. This version was re-written and performed in 2001 during the foot & mouth outbreak - hence the topical references. Its based on the BBC2 programme Newsnight which is often presented by Kirsty Wark.

See also Face to Face (Jesus' Arrest) which is based on an earlier version of this sketch.



  • Kirsty Squawk:  TV interviewer
  • Malchus Leviticus: High Priest's servant
  • Shimron Eliakim: Member of Sanhedrin for Jerusalem East (Pharisees party)


As for BBC2 Newsnight programme or similar - desk with chairs for interviewer and interviewees.


Voiceover:  The time is 10:30.  Next on PBC2 - Newsnight with Kirsty Squawk.
Kirsty:  Hello Good evening and welcome to Newsnight.  There is still serious concern tonight about the foot and mouth outbreak and its impact on the temple sacrifices during the coming Passover. But our main news  this evening is the surprise arrest only a few hours ago of the Radical Preacher, some say Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus has been a popular leader and teacher over the last three years, travelling around the country preaching a radical message of reform.  He has been particularly outspoken in opposition to the ruling Pharisees.  As he arrived in Jerusalem a week ago he was hailed as a hero and possible future king.  Such speculation has led to grave concern in the Sanhedrin and calls from the back benchers for tougher action.  Later tonight we will be speaking to Shimron Eliakim Member of Sanhedrin for Jerusalem East and a leading Pharisee.  Before that however we have with us Malchus Leviticus.  A servant of the High Priest and one of the arresting team.  Malchus was attacked and wounded during the arrest.  Malchus, perhaps  I could ask you first:  who carried out the arrest?
Malchus:  Well we were lead there by  a man called Judas Iscariot - one of Jesus’s followers
Kirsty:  So one of his own followers handed him over to the authorities!
Malchus:  Yes that’s right.
Kirsty:  Who else was in the arresting party?
Malchus:  There were a few of us servants, some officials from the chief priests and elders, a few Pharisees and, of course, a detachment of Roman soldiers  - but we were all armed with either swords or clubs as we didn’t know what to expect.
Kirsty:  Let me get this straight you went armed to the teeth to arrest a man who has preached  a message of "love your enemies" and "turn the other cheek" — what exactly were you afraid of?
Malchus:  Well it was a good job we did because when we tried to arrest him things got nasty.
Kirsty:  How did that happen?
Malchus:  Judas had said "The one I kiss is the man, arrest him".  So he went up to greet this Jesus with a kiss.  Well that was the signal but nobody moved.  Then Jesus said "Who do you want", the commander said "Jesus of Nazareth".  Then, well I'm not sure what happened next 'cos  the next thing I knew one of his disciples had leapt forward and chopped my ear off!
Kirsty:  Which one?
Malchus:  This one [points to one ear] No this one [points to the other] No, no it was this one [points back to first ear]
Kirsty:  But its still there!
Malchus:  Er yes, well, as soon as this bloke had lunged out, Jesus grabbed his arm and told him to put his sword away. Then he reached out and touched my ear and healed it.  Right there on the spot.
Kirsty:  What happened next?
Malchus:  Well Jesus was arrested by the commander and escorted back to the High Priest 's house.
Kirsty:  What happened to his disciples?
Malchus:  They legged it.
Kirsty:  Malchus Thank you.  Well it certainly seems that this so called Messiah practises what he preaches about loving your enemies even when he’s being arrested.  But if his followers have fled and he appears opposed to violence what kind of threat is he?  For our answer we turn to Rt. Hon. Shimron Eliakim Minister of Justice for the Pharisees.  Mr. Eliakim - why was Jesus of Nazareth arrested?
Shimron:  Well there are a number of reasons, first and most important the man is a blasphemer and quite clearly therefore - evil.
Kirsty:  He is an evil man who preaches a message of love and good works and heals the sick, I believe.
Shimron:  I think you are missing the point the man is a troublemaker and a charlatan — stirring up trouble he claims he can destroy the great Temple and rebuild it again in 3 days.  Furthermore by claiming to be some sort of King with that nonsense last week — riding into Jerusalem on a donkey — honestly!  He opposes taxes and claims to be the Messiah King - directly challenging Rome and Caesar.
Kirsty:  And that’s why he’s been arrested?
Shimron:  Yes!
Kirsty:  Because he opposes Roman taxes (like you do) and would rather see the back of Caesar (like you would). You can't arrest him just because he is more popular than you, he’s criticising your party’s position
Shimron:  Look party political matters do not apply here — we believe this Jesus to be a dangerous and subversive man who must be brought to Justice!
Kirsty:  Were is he now?
Shimron:  He’s helping the High priest with his enquiries.
Kirsty:  What at this time of night? Isn’t that a little irregular?
Shimron:  We are treating this very seriously and  are dealing with it as a matter of urgency.  An emergency Session of the Sanhedrin High Court will be held first thing tomorrow morning.
Kirsty:  Jesus has been preaching in the Temple courts all week why choose now to arrest him why all the secrecy -  hurrying through legal proceedings against him in a most unorthodox manner!
Shimron:  Look the Passover is nearly upon us and we need this matter dealt with quickly and decisively. With all the livestock in the city at this time of year we have enough on our plate dealing with the foot and mouth crisis.
Kirsty:  So he’s just another lamb to the slaughter then.
Shimron:  Yes. I mean No.  I mean...
Kirsty:  Thank you.  The Rt Hon. Shimron Eliakim. We will of course be updating you on further developments as they happen.
Just time now for a quick look at tomorrows headlines:  The Jerusalem Times leads with Government Clampdown on Heretical Sect . The Daily Herald reads“Messiah” Arrested! Jesus To Be Brought To Trial.  The Financial Times leads with Market Recovers as Tables Turned on Preacher.  The Zealot headlines with Radical Rabbi in Surprise Arrest Shocker.  The Sabbath Sport has Moses Is Alive and Living On Mount Carmel!  That’s it for tonight.  Shalom.

Copyright © 1994, 2007 Jane And Mark Lewis. Email:

This is the SMALL PRINT. Subject to our Terms and Conditions of Use you are licensed to perform this sketch free of charge and also copy, modify and distribute this sketch (providing appropriate copyright notices and references to the Potted JAM website remain intact). You may not charge for performing, copying, modifying or distributing the sketch. Full details of our Terms and Conditions of Use are published on the appropriate page on our website

Back to Top            Back to Drama Homepage