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Discovering the Divinity of Jesus Christ Famous person’s Countercultural Messiah


If my life have been a film, fashionable music can be its soundtrack. It might be an eclectic launch as my tastes are somewhat expansive, together with basic rock, heavy metallic, folks, punk, funk, classical, and even a present tune or two when the event requires it. There’s a tune for each second and a playlist for each season.

Throughout Lent, nonetheless, I’ve made it a practice to restrict my listening to music that helps repair my eyes on Jesus, him being the explanation for the season and all that. My seasonal playlist brims with basic hymns, CCM favorites outdated and new, Aretha, and the like. Final 12 months, I even sampled some EDM-laced songs courtesy of Kevin Max. You could possibly say I quit non-Jesus music for Lent.

A number of years in the past, whereas on the lookout for one thing new for my Lent playlist—and being in a present tunes sort of temper—my ideas turned to Jesus Christ Famous person, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s trippy rock opera concerning the carpenter who can be king. I had been conscious of Jesus Christ Famous person for a very long time however had by no means really listened to it, due largely to my religious dad and mom’ vocal disapproval of the fabric. But it surely didn’t take lengthy for this groovily operatic tackle the Messiah to turn into a Lenten favourite and a staple of my Holy Week worship.

Like my fundamentalist dad and mom, worship most likely isn’t what involves thoughts when one thinks of Jesus Christ Famous person. That definitely wasn’t the case when it debuted in 1970. Unable to get backing for a stage present on the time1, composer Webber and lyricist Tim Rice launched Jesus Christ Famous person as a rock opera idea album, a brand new style popularized by The Who’s Tommy, which had been launched the earlier 12 months. The album turned a success, charting within the US and UK with fashionable singles “Famous person” and “I Don’t Know Learn how to Love Him” main the way in which2. This success led to a Broadway run in 1971, an much more profitable West Finish run in 19723, and a film in 1973.

I used to be shocked to seek out that when you bought previous all of the counterculture posturing, Jesus Christ Famous person obtained one essential factor proper concerning the gospel accounts.

Regardless of its success, many within the non secular neighborhood didn’t take a shine to the album’s conception of Jesus as a younger firebrand struggling by the hands of a repressive authorities. BBC Radio discovered the album sacrilegious and banned it from its broadcasts4. Christian teams picketed the Broadway opening5 and no much less an authority than Billy Graham frightened that the present “bordered on blasphemy.”6

After I lastly listened to the album, although, I used to be shocked to seek out that when you bought previous all of the counterculture posturing, it obtained one essential factor proper concerning the gospel accounts. Like these narratives, Jesus Christ Famous person preoccupies itself with one query, the query because it seems: Is Jesus the Christ?

Because the chorus from album’s climactic track, “Famous person,” places it:

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ,
Who’re you? What have you ever sacrificed?
Jesus Christ Famous person,
Do you suppose you’re what they are saying you might be?

Midway by way of the gospel of Mark, Jesus asks his disciples: “Who do folks say that I’m?” (Mark 8:27, ESV) “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of many prophets,” the disciples reply (Mark 8:28, ESV). Everybody, it appears, had their very own tackle Jesus. And so it’s in Jesus Christ Famous person.

The album doesn’t give a panoramic view of Jesus’ life. It picks up the story as he prepares to enter Jerusalem and follows him by way of a really eventful week that ends with him nailed to a cross the place he breathes his final. Alongside the way in which, we hear from these round him, buddy and foe alike, as they wrestle to make sense of this most enigmatic determine. Consider it because the rock opera model of Mark 8.

Within the opening track, “Heaven on Their Minds,” Judas sees Jesus as a person in peril of believing his personal press. (“You’ve began to imagine the issues they are saying of you,” Judas laments.) In “This Jesus Should Die,” the non secular institution sees him as a harmful provocateur who will carry the wrath of the Roman occupiers down upon them. (“Our elimination due to one man,” declares Caiphas.) To the anti-Roman insurgents in “Simon Zealotes,” Jesus is a celeb who may be exploited to “win ourselves a house.” And in “The Trial Earlier than Pilate,” Pilate tries to reassure the assembled mob that Jesus is “simply misguided, thinks he’s essential.”

Again in Mark 8, Jesus follows up his preliminary query to his disciples with one other. “However who do you say that I’m?”

“You’re the Christ,” solutions Peter.

Jesus Christ Famous person doesn’t go so far as Peter. As a product of its time, the album’s portrait of Jesus displays the prevailing romantic counterculture view of him as a political martyr, a sufferer of the Man. (For proof of this, look no additional than Norman Jewison’s movie adaptation, which renders the story as an anachronistic “Age of Aquarius” fantasia that’s extra Hair than The Chosen.) One may detect a whiff of biblical criticism as Jesus Christ Famous person eschews any depiction of Jesus’ supernatural feats, most notably the resurrection. This has led many Christian detractors to accuse the album of denying the divinity of Jesus altogether.

Upon nearer listening, nonetheless, that accusation doesn’t maintain—or it’s at the very least superficial.

It’s true that, by their very own admission on the time, Lloyd Webber and Rice weren’t believers in Jesus’ divinity. In an interview after the Broadway present’s debut, Rice stated that “Christ has extra relevance for me as a human being than He does as God.”7 And but, the phrases out of their characters’ mouths verify that Jesus’ distinctive enchantment stemmed from his declare to divinity.

Take Herod’s phrases to Jesus upon assembly him for the primary time in “King Herod’s Tune (Strive It and See)”:

Jesus, I’m overjoyed to satisfy you head to head.
You’ve been getting fairly a reputation throughout the place.
Therapeutic cripples, elevating from the lifeless.
And now I perceive you’re God,
At the least, that’s what you’ve stated.

Within the remaining accounting, nobody will ever mistake Jesus Christ Famous person for a “Christian” album. Keith Inexperienced, it most definitely ain’t! However whereas Jesus Christ Famous person’s creators might not have believed that Jesus was God, they have been trustworthy sufficient to the gospel narratives to acknowledge that Jesus definitely did. Just like the proverbial blind males describing the elephant, they have been feeling their manner alongside the contours of the reality. And there’s worth in that.

In chapter 17 of the guide of Acts, the apostle Paul encounters an odd sight in Athens. Among the many temples of the assorted Greek gods, he finds an altar with the next inscription: “To the unknown god.” Being the great evangelist that he was, Paul used this altar as a conduit to introduce the Athenians to the divinity of Jesus. In Jesus Christ Famous person’s ambiguity on the matter of Jesus’ divinity, I additionally discover an altar to an unknown god that, each Lent, turns into a conduit to the actual factor because the music leads me to meditate on that almost all essential of questions: “Who do you say that I’m?


1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Christ_Superstar_(album)
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Christ_Superstar_(album)
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Christ_Superstar
4. https://www.ncronline.org/information/tradition/jesus-christ-superstar-controversial-musical-phenomenon-turns-50
5. https://www.nytimes.com/1971/10/31/archives/they-wrote-it-and-theyre-glad-they-wrote-superstar.html
6. https://www.ncronline.org/information/tradition/jesus-christ-superstar-controversial-musical-phenomenon-turns-50
7. https://www.nytimes.com/1971/10/31/archives/they-wrote-it-and-theyre-glad-they-wrote-superstar.html



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