Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 25, 1971
NUMBER 45, PAGE 5a,6

Jesus Christ, — — Superstar Or Son Of God?

Irvin Himmel

Whether we like it or not, rock music is here — probably to stay for a long while. Radio and TV stations are playing it, the record shops are selling it, and a lot of young folks are enamored with it.

The British rock opera, "Jesus Christ, Superstar," will have its influence. In a world already given to infidelity, this production is but another contribution to the forces seeking to undermine faith in the Deity of Jesus. In this article I am illustrating the ridiculous manner in which the opera portrays our Lord.

At the Passover when the Lord's supper was instituted, Jesus is represented as saying,

"This is my blood you drink

This is my body you eat

If you would remember me when you eat and drink

I must be mad thinking I'll be remembered — yes

I must be out of my head!

Look at your blank faces!

My name will mean nothing

Ten minutes after I'm dead!

One of you denies me

One of you betrays me — "

Read what Jesus actually said by consulting Matt. 26:17-30; Mk. 14:12-26; Lk. 22:7-30; John 13:1-38; I Cor. 11:23-24. He gave absolutely no hint of feeling that he was "mad" or out of his head for thinking he would be remembered by his followers. Jesus expected to be remembered. He instituted the supper as a means of being remembered. And by the disciples he was remembered!

At the Passover he announced that Judas would betray him, and explained, "Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he." (John 13:19.) Why would anyone want to represent Jesus as saying at the Passover, "I must be out of my head?" Jesus made no such remark, and this language does no justice to the character or Sonship of Jesus.

The opera has Jesus saying these words in the garden of Gethsemane:

"I only want to say If there is a way

Take this cup away from me for I don't want

to taste its poison

Feel it burn me, I have changed I'm not as sure

As when we started Then I was inspired Now I'm sad and tired."

Compare the above with what our Lord really said as reported in Matt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:3242; Lk. 23:3946. There is no suggestion in the Bible that Jesus had a change of heart in the garden — that he was not as sure as he had been when he first started teaching. His prayer in Gethsemane brings out the feelings of the human side of his nature as he faced death but gives no insinuation that he had begun to doubt his own Divine Nature. Putting such words into the mouth of our Master is but a subtle way of inferring that he was not even sure of himself. This does no honor to God's beloved Son! This downgrades his claim of Divinity. This is a gross misinterpretation of the prayer in the garden. Jesus did not say, "I'm not as sure as when we started."

In close connection with the above, Jesus is made to address the Father in a manner that sounds like outright blasphemy —

"Can you show me now that I would not be killed in vain?

Show me just a little of your omnipresent brain

Show me there's a reason for your wanting me to die

You're far too keen on where and how and not so hot on why."

If this kind of language does not "turn on" the righteous indignation of people who reverence God and respect Jesus as the beloved Son of God, there is something wrong with my understanding of what is sacred and what is not. Jesus fully understood the reasons for his death. He had previously stated them plainly. (John 10:11-18; Matt. 20:28).

But the opera depicts Jesus as being scared and about to change his mind about dying —

"Now I'm sad and tired

After all I've tried for three years

seems like ninety

Why then am I scared to finish what I started

What you started — I didn't start it

God thy will is hard

But you hold every card

I will drink your cup of poison, nail me to the cross and break me

Bleed me beat me kill me take me now — before I change my mind."

Jesus is represented as saying to Peter when the apostle tried to defend him with the sword,

"Put away your sword

Don't you know that it's all over?

It was nice but now it's gone

Why are you so obsessed with fighting?

Stick to fishing from now on."

This intimates that Jesus had some sort of dream or ambition that had now come to nought. That statement, along with the general sentiment expressed throughout the opera, leads one to wonder if the lyrics are not deliberately insinuating that Jesus' claim of being God's Son went down the drain with his death on the cross. Jesus did not tell Peter to "Stick to fishing from now on." Such a statement would flatly contradict the assignment which Jesus gave to Peter and the other apostles after his resurrection. How could Peter stick to fishing and at the same time do his part in preaching the gospel to the whole world?

Before Pilate, Jesus is made to say,

"I have got no kingdom in this world — I'm through, through, through.

* * *

There may be a kingdom for me somewhere — if I only knew."

Jesus told Pilate that the kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36), but he did not say, "I'm through, through, through," as though the kingdom idea had vanished. Our Lord definitely promised that his kingdom would come (Mk. 9:1), and it did. (Col. 1:13; Heb. 12:28)

In "Jesus Christ, Superstar" no one comes into the story to testify, as did Peter on one occasion, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." (Matt. 16:16). Why is the death of Jesus set forth as though all his hopes, ambitions, and claims vanished when he was crucified? Why is not the testimony of the centurion given — the centurion who said, "Truly this was the Son of God"? (Matt. 27:54.)

I believe that Jesus was a man while here on earth — but not just a man. The whole trend of the opera is to downgrade the Divinity of Jesus. The Bible pictures him as God manifested in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16) — the Word made flesh (John 1:14) — the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16) — the world's only Savior, Messiah, and Redeemer.

Superstar or Son of God? The documented evidence dating from antiquity says "Son Of God." Two young British rock producers say "Superstar."

— 305 Glen Ridge Ave., Temple Terrace, Fla. 33617