Based on Luke’s version of this encounter, in Luke 4.
Jesus (J) walks on and kneels down, resting back on his legs, centre stage. He is wearing dirty ragged clothes. A second figure (F) walks on and paces arrogantly and impatiently back and forth repeatedly across the stage. At the end of the piece two other figures, angels, walk on. They are dressed in ordinary clothes.
F: Hey man, how you doing?
There is no reply from the kneeling figure who just looks forward calmly.
F: I hear tell you have the power to turn stones into bread. Come on! What’s your problem, man? Do it. You’re hungry, I can hear your stomach groaning away there. Don’t be hunched there suffering, You can do the Jazz on this man! What’s holding you back?
Jesus still sits quietly and calmly. Then as the figure starts pacing again he speaks.
J: Did you not know what it says in the book of Deuteronomy? That people need more than bread for a full life. They need to feed on the food of God.
The pacing figure reaches down and raises Jesus up to an upright kneeling position.
F: You see that lot? (F gestures forward with a sweep of his outstretched hand) I can give you all this! For free! No effort on your part at all. Others would kill for this – power over every kingdom of the world. You can have it, mate. You can have it all. No kidding. Serious Jazz man. All you got to do… (he shoves Jesus forward a little but Jesus bounces back upright) is worship me, that’s it man, that’s all. Easy.
J: (Looking out at the view of all the kingdoms) Don’t you know what Deuteronomy says? There is only worth worshipping. Only one worth offering our lives – our energy, time and resources to – the living God. He is worth it. Only him.
The figure looks grouchy, paces a little more, then comes back and pulls Jesus up to a standing position. Jesus wobbles and looks down as though he is on a very high precipice.
F: Hey man, don’t you go doing that! It’s a long way down, ain’t it? But you know that, and you ain’t scared are you? No way, man! Look, I got some of those old scriptures here that you like so much. See? Here – (he pulls out a small Bible, flicks it open and reads) – it says right here (he jabs the open page with his finger) – right here – that you can throw yourself off and God will send his angels to catch ya! Cool, eh? Go on, prove yourself! Check it out. See how much God cares for you, throw yourself off. Do it! It’ll make a statement man. Serious.
J: Those scriptures you’re holding? They also say this – Don’t test God. Trust him. Don’t go looking for ways to prove a point, to parade your faith like some big impressive show.
The figure stares at Jesus one last time, then growls, throws up his hands, shoves the Bible into Jesus’ hands and storms off.
Jesus stays there, looking at the Bible. Then two other figures (angels, but dressed in ordinary clothes) walk on, carrying a clean robe, a bowl and a cloth. They gently wash Jesus’ face and put the robe on him, over the rags he is wearing. Jesus smiles at them gently, turns and walks off to begin his mission. They leave too.
By Adrian Schofield adapted by Dave Hopwood