“Jesus Christ Superstar,” a Broadway opera first came out in 1971; however, was reimagined in 2018, with John Legend playing the role of Jesus. While I was not much of a fan of the previous make of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ I was caught up in the new making of the opera as I watched from a different perspective than before. The story of Jesus’ crucifixion and death are told through the lens of Pilate, Peter, and Judas. These three men had the opportunity to change the trajectory of the ending story of Jesus’ life and death.
Peter, a faithful disciple of Jesus; one who claimed that Jesus was and is the Messiah, denied ever having known Jesus three different times while Jesus stood trial before Pilate. Judas, also a disciple of Jesus, that when presented with money to betray Jesus with a kiss, chose the money. And, Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent; however, for political power, turned Jesus over to be crucified.
All three of these men let fear guide their decisions. Because of their fear, they lacked the courage to stand up for a Man who had turned the water into wine, healed the crippled and sick, gave the blind the ability to see, fed those who were hungry, and even raised the dead back to life.
‘Fear’ is the emotion that guided King Herod to kill all the children under the age of two years old so that the Christ child may also be killed. King Herod was ‘frightened’ (Matthew 2:3,) in fact, terrified that he would lose his power and no longer be king.
As the Three Wisemen follow the star to see and witness the Christ child, the Manifestation of God, they have the amazing opportunity to see God! Jesus Christ is God and with this witness, the Three Wisemen ‘go home another way’ so that they may avoid King Herod.
This story is not about King Herod or about the Three Wisemen who go to find Jesus in Bethlehem. This story is about us! It is about the Human race. We are no different than King Herod, Peter, Judas, or Pilate. We are human beings and so were they. We have the same tendencies as they did. We too live in fear, doubt, sometimes hate, and often we will resist the new King.
In this new season of Epiphany, we are invited to go to Bethlehem and experience the Manifestation of God. However, the only way we can witness to the newborn child as the Messiah, we have to see ourselves in those who denied, betrayed, and feared the One who came to save us. We have to see ourselves in Peter, Judas, Pilate, and King Herod. We have to realize and acknowledge that we are human. We have to know that we are prone to sin. We must acknowledge that we do not always stand up for Jesus and sometimes may not have the courage to admit that we know Him and who He is to us.
Isn’t this the Epiphany? Isn’t this the “Ah ha” moment that in order to have the opportunity to go to Bethlehem and accept God’s grace is to believe and know that we are worse off than we think, in more trouble than we suppose, and flatter ourselves way too much?
God’s invitation for amazing grace only comes when we recognize our great need for Jesus Christ and our attachment to Him! Jesus, the Manifestation of God then becomes the Manifestation of our heart!
In the reimagined opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” the actors give the gift of those watching and engaging in the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and death, allows them to see themselves as the ones who betray, deny, and reject the One who came to save them from their sin.
With this realization, we are then eager to go to Bethlehem to be amazed by GRACE where we meet the Christ child and go home another way!