Controversial Jesus Christ Superstar to air live on NBC Easter night
Christians all over America are more-than-likely rather disgusted by the fact that a major television network is airing a revamped live staging of the 1970 classic rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar on the holiest day of the year. This Sunday, on NBC’s rock concert stage, the notoriously Biblically inaccurate hippy musical will air on prime time to an audience of millions.
What’s the fuss? Tell me what’s a-happening?
Jesus Christ Super Star is about the last seven days of the life of Christ before His crucifixion. Critics and even some churches have sang the praises of this musical for decades. Some have even considered it an effective way to present Christ to young people that is palatable and easy to understand. In this interpretation, Judas Iscariot is the star of the show. Jesus is portrayed by Judas as a fallible, conflicted, nondeified man occupied with his own fame while in a romantic relationship with Mary Magdalene. This is revolting and deeply insulting to most Christians...and quite frankly, it's blasphemous. But, this is the world for which we live, and in it, you will get very unsavory interpretations of holy things. That’s how it works. The world hates Jesus, remember? And, it hates you, too.
Photo by: James Dimmock/NBC
Original score by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice - two men who openly admit that they most certainly do not recognize Jesus as anything more than an marginally influential man during a politically charged moment in time. From an interview for Open End Radio at the time of the original showing, Tim Rice had this to say about Jesus:
"For me it obviously indicates that, Christ was just a super-prophet who - a fantastic man, who made a big mark on his time, and we don’t really know all that much about him. The fact that an awful lot happened in Christ’s life that could easily be legend, I don’t think diminishes the importance of the legend. But, I think, as the years roll on, in the 20th and 21st centuries, I think less and less people are going to think of Christ as a god, and I think more people are going to see him as a generally good thing. I don’t see him as a god at all, and the opera doesn’t categorically say he wasn’t but I think it leaves the question very open. Although the gospels seem largely accurate in their telling of the events of the crucifixion, one can see great flaws in their portrayals of both Christ and Judas."
Their interpretation is told mostly through the eyes of Judas Iscariot but also by various other pivotal characters to the plot. Webber has said that, "Basically the idea of the whole opera is to have Christ seen through the eyes of Judas, and Christ as a man not as a god. And the fact that Christ himself is just as mixed up and unaware of exactly what he is, as Judas is." Judas is rendered as the more rational and overly concerned cynic who is worried for Jesus’ welfare as He rises to super-stardom. Christians recoil on these two insults right off the bat: Judas being depicted as the good guy and the only one there with his head on straight, and Jesus as a conflicted, confused man rising to super-stardom in a political climate that could get them all killed. Outside of the getting them all killed part, these are premises that are about as contrary to the real deal as one can get.
Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. ~John 6:68-71
Scripture clearly delineates that Judas was possessed by the devil. So, anything viewed through Judas Iscariot's eyes is coming from Satan himself.
Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. ~Luke 22:3
Jesus made Himself lowly and humble as a servant, who did not take advantage of His rightful position during His earthly mission. His identity was purposefully kept concealed until the last hours. The disciples knew who Jesus was, but were told to keep it a secret. Even demons were not permitted to reveal who He was.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! ~Philippians 2:6-8
And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ. ~Luke 4:41
So, with Jesus Christ Superstar, the world gets the story of the Passion told to us by Satan himself, on a major television network at the Passover holiday…how rich.
The point is, this rock opera was originally written and produced at the height of the counter-culture movement of the 60s and 70s by two men who do not believe Jesus is the son of God. The entire country was (and still is) saturated with cultural Marxism - a deliberate, radical divergence from all-things moral and godly. Since there are certain world players with very deep pockets who perpetuate this ideology of godless rebellion, the nation will never heal. A predictable result? We have an all-star cast of godless liberals rehashing a blasphemous interpretation of the most important event of all time, to be broadcast on the holiest day of the year.
It might be time for believers to realize once and for all that we cannot expect the world to bring anything short of wickedness to the table. Christians are still expecting unbelievers to fall in line with scripture. Why? They simply aren’t equipped, it’s not scriptural, and expecting holiness from the unholy, especially as we draw nearer to Jesus’ return, is standard-issue denial and dare I say, lukewarm thinking. If anything, while some might interpret this as a high occult Satanic ritual, it could actually be a sign that we are indeed in the last days. That is celebratory in itself. Spoiler alert: Things will get worse before Jesus comes back. Entropy is not for sissies and we will be here for the tribulation.
But, there are some good things to point out with this production. Grammy-winning recording star, John Legend is cast in the role of Jesus. This is the long overdue black Jesus we’ve been waiting for and it’s worth celebrating. Everyone knows the real Jesus wasn’t black. He wasn’t white either. That’s not the point. What’s important is that Hollywood stop white-washing every single theatrical production known to mankind, which perpetuates division and exclusionary attitudes. Grandfather of shock rock and long-time professing Christian, Alice Cooper, is cast in the role of King Herod. So, there’s at least one card-carrying believer on board. The rest of the cast can be seen here. Photo by: James Dimmock/NBC
Personally, I think that if the secular world is thinking of Jesus on the Passover, even if the character portrayal is less than perfect, that is a good thing. If anything, this should give good water cooler discussion come Monday morning, so, take that opportunity to rebuke and correct. But, do it with gentleness and respect. The main takeaway here is that Christians need to stop hanging on the idea that the world, on the spiritual frontier, will improve by human power. There is only One who can make that happen, and He is the true star of the show.