31 July 2018
( by Jim Williams ©)
In 1970, a musical called “Jesus Christ, Superstar” was released. It took the country by storm, bringing in a lot of money and praise from believers and non-believers alike. Most people were really taken with its music and its pseudo-theology. Some believers saw it differently, calling it blasphemy. I’ve kept that thought in mind through the years, wondering what was blasphemous, and what made that call a good one.
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice concocted a musical masterpiece, the music still sticks with me. Sounding mostly like Webber’s style, it has some memorable melodies in it, for sure. But there is this question, the asking of which explains itself: “Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, who are you, what have you sacrificed?” Good question! Jesus polled his disciples the very same first question in a conversation with his disciples: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13-17).
Peter answers the question correctly, and Jesus commends him, adding that Peter knew that because the Holy Spirit had told him so, not people. People didn’t know! Many years after the play was released, there was an interview with Tim Rice, one of the collaborators.
He explained that the piece was written from Judas Iscariot’s perspective. THAT EXPLAINS THE QUESTION! Judas had been the treasurer among the disciples, removing him from suspicion as being the betrayer, even at the Upper Room discourse. Jesus made him treasurer, so he was never thought of as not having Jesus’ best interests at heart. The disciples would have prevented him from betraying Jesus at the slightest thought of it, but as Jesus himself said, he did it “so Scripture could be fulfilled.”
We hear Yvonne Elliman singing the lyric “he’s just a man” in her song. THAT was the thought about him among people in His day, except those who had been forgiven and healed. The world refused Him as He presented himself, as Lord. To this day, the TV networks forbid the mention of His name in reference to God in their programming, because they go along with the idea.
Jesus being Healer is an easy concept to grasp, but healer BECAUSE he is God? That takes the Holy Spirit to say in a heart. It only happens when the heart is willing to accept it. The world never will, count on it. Peter, the character in this play, sings a whole litany of reasons and insights why Jesus as God didn’t make any sense, in that time, or this. “Israel in 4BC had no mass communication” is one line that sticks in memory. His manner and methods were madness to the world. The character and chorus sing out the question out of pure exasperation, coming from their logic as they do—”Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, who are you? What have you sacrificed?” They call him Superstar, because Lord was not a term they would accept for him. It rendered them accountable to give Him his due, and they knew it. Despite His miracles and His claims, they still would not go there.
Jesus Christ Superstar is a magnificent expression of worldly acclaim, because he was only a superstar to them. So, who is HE to you? Ω