JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR was the first musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to be on the professional stage. Shocker, it had controversial reactions from religious groups! But ... it was a huge success and made into a motion picture. Some time ago I went to see one of my best friends perform in this long-time favourite of mine ... and I had some thoughts.
Those who know me personally and those who read what I write have probably figured out that I'm not into institutional Christianity. I like being the PART of a church, but Lord help me, I have always kinda disliked "doing church" -- if that makes sense. And it has only been in the last few years that I don't mind admitting it. There have been some instances where it became more like a social club where I felt a little like the nerd because I don't necessarily process spiritual things the way others might. My husband says Christians generally spend way more time talking about what goes on between 9 and 11 a.m. on Sunday morning than they ever do about their lives during the week.
If only we used "church" more as a verb, instead of a noun.
Fortunately, I do now worship at a place full of people like me... but I digress.
At the end of the day, when it all comes down to the wire, you know, I truly just like Jesus as a person ... I mean, aside from the fact that he's the son of THE MOST HIGH GOD and all, I just - like Him. Jesus spent time with people. He listened, He helped, He touched people, and he hurt along side people. Jesus hung out with people he didn't always agree with, and they always felt loved by him. He stood up for what was right when it was right. And he loved. And he gave people second chances.
One of the reasons the show JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR appeals to me, besides the kickin' hippie rock music, is that instead of concentrating on the divinity of Jesus, the musical focuses on Judas Iscariot and Mary Magdalene (the most potentially controversial people involved in His life) and the complexity of their humanity. BOTH of these friends, with their socially and spiritually questionable choices, lift up their voices in emotionally different moments, and beautifully roar the same internal struggle: "I don't know how to love him ... "
My friend Julie once told me when she first heard this musical it was the first time she had ever heard any semblance of the story of Jesus and those lyrics in particular haunted her for days. Julie is a real Jesus-lover and is now married to ... a preacher. I love that her first introduction to Jesus was the Superstar musical. Why did this appeal to her? Well. Years ago she told me it was because Jesus was the kind of man who touched people in a way that confused them and challenged them as human beings while never letting go of their hearts.
“Which of the two sons did what the father asked?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said, “Yes, and I tell you that crooks and whores are going to precede you into God’s kingdom. John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks andwhores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn’t care enough to change and believe him.
Matthew 21:31-32, The Message
You know, it is an excellent friend who can convict you, confuse you and tick you off that much yet still be the first person you'll call to throw back a cold one with you. I just wonder if Jesus were here in the flesh today if he would go into a building and sing praises to Himself or hang out at the local bar and truly live alongside people.
Pretty sure I know the answer to that.
I surmise he'd have a delayed lunch with someone who hurt him and he'd let them know that there is such a thing as unconditional love and forgiveness. And then maybe, just possibly, they'd go out for that beer.
Yep, it is because of Jesus' brand of relational living that I believe He really is ... a superstar.
For further insight into Jesus' relationship with touching those with questionable lifestyles,
see Matthew 9:9-13, 11:16-19, Mark 2:13-17, Luke 5:27-32, 7:31-50, 15:1-2, 19:10