Tag Archives: Andrew Lloyd Webber

Jesus Christ Superstar

Read Philippians 2:1-11

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God. ” (John 6:67-69 NLT)

JCS-iconI have always been a fan of plays and movies about the life and teachings of Christ. One of favorites, which started as a play and has been made into a movie, is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. The story starts off toward the end of Jesus’ ministry, and it opens with Judas Iscariot questioning what the Jesus movement has become. They had followed him for three years, hoping that he would be their Messiah, and hoping that he would overthrow the Romans and establish his kingdom and reestablish Jewish sovereignty.

Yet things had seriously changed since that day that Judas first joined the band of disciples. Back then, everyone thought of Jesus as another human being, albeit a holy, prophetic, and kingly human being. Since those first days, weeks, months as Jesus’ disciples first joined him on his mission. He started performing miracles, he started developing a following and, according to Judas, he had started developing a God-complex. In the song, “Heaven on Their Minds”, Judas belts out in his high Tenor voice, “I remember when this whole thing began, no talk of God then, we called you a man. And believe me, my admiration for you hasn’t died. But every word you say today gets twisted ’round some other way, and they’ll hurt you if they think you’ve lied.”

While no one knows the real reason behind Judas’ decision to betray Jesus; however, it is clear that all of the disciples followed Jesus with their own hopes and expectation of who Jesus was and who he was going to be. They were hoping he would be a superstar, to use today’s terminology, and they wanted to ride that wave into the Jewish history books. Of course, Jesus certainly did become a superstar and he certainly etched his way into all of the world’s history books; however, Jesus was not the kind of superstar they were all hoping he would be.

He amassed tons of followers, tons of notoriety, and gained a ton of attention; however, Jesus’ message was not one of violent revolt against the Romans, but a peaceful revolution of his own people. While he was no “friend of Caesar”, he also became no “friend” of the political and religious leaders of his own people. He felt that, as the Messiah, his revolution was one of the heart. It was one that would reestablish the greatness of GOD through love, compassion, sacrifice, discipline, justice, mercy, and humility. This kind of revolution made enemies with the Romans and the elites among his own people. Consequently, this Jesus Christ Superstar made enemies among his own friends and followers. Jesus was a superstar for sure, but that superstardom would not result in people crowning him…but crucifying him.

As we are in Lent, let us challenge ourselves to reflect on who we see Jesus to be. What are your hopes and expectations of Jesus? Are they realistic? Are they self-serving? Are they based on what others have told you about him or are they Biblically based? Do you see Jesus as being in your image? Or are seeking the kind of transformation that will lead you to look more and more like Jesus? What’s more, will your hopes and expectations of Jesus lead you to continue growing in your love, admiration and service of him, or will it lead you to grow more and more frustrated and disconnected from him? Remember that Jesus is the King of kings because he cannot be corrupted, manipulated, or bent to our ways. Jesus is Lord because he is unrelenting in his mission of hope, healing and wholeness, and he is uncompromising in his revolution to transform the heart. I pray that, in your Lenten journey, you come to be transformed by this divinely radical revolution.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Neither you, Simon, nor the fifty thousand, nor the Romans, nor the Jews, nor Judas, nor the twelve, nor the priests, nor the scribes, nor doomed Jerusalem itself understand what power is, understand what glory is, understand at all.” – Jesus Christ in Jesus Christ Superstar

PRAYER
Lord, become a revolution in my heart and transform me with the power of your world rocking love. Amen.

A Phantom Lesson

Read 1 Corinthians 13

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

'phantom-of-the-opera'-at-25-offers-a-special-showThe chamber is dark, hollow, desolate. All that can be heard are the echoes ringing through the darkened chasm and corridors like sounds of moaning bellowing through an old, dank mausoleum.  The song of two lovebirds pierce the ears of the silhouette of the man left behind in the chamber; their words of loving devotion will haunt him for the rest of his days.  Yet, he knows that what he did was right. He knows that he could not hold on to her any longer. He knows that he shouldn’t have held on to her at all. After all he loves her, and it was his love for her, for his precious angel of music, that brought him to the realization that she was never his to begin with.

This is how Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera ends. It is my favorite Broadway musical and it tells the tale of a deformed man who masks his deformity and masquerades around the Paris Opera House, extorting money from the Opera House owners.  He also is teaching a young woman, by the name of Christine Daae, whom he loves.  He pretends to be her father’s ghost or, rather, her father’s angel of music.  You see, Christine’s father died while she was a child and, before he died, he promised to send his angel to her. It was kind of her father’s way of assuring his child that he’d always be with her.

But the Phantom took the words of her father and used them in a way that manipulated Christine. He desired her and wanted her to not only be the most renowned and beloved Soprano in all of France, but he also wanted her to be his bride.  Needless to say, that plan fell through and the Phantom ends up kidnapping her after he realizes that she’s fallen in love with another man.  That man pursues them in order to save Christine, but he get caught by the Phantom and Christine is given the ultimate choice: either she marries the Phantom or her lover dies.

What kind of love does that? Where does love go so wrong that someone would force you into making such a choice? How can the Phantom claim to love Christine and put her into such a horrifying situation?  Somewhere in the midst of rage, those questions must have penetrated the Phantom’s heart.  Christine chooses to marry the Phantom in order to save her lover and the Phantom realizes that, even if she does marry him, she will never love him. So, he lets both her and her lover go. He does not harm either of them; rather, he lets them go and sinks back into the shadows of his lair…never to be heard of again.

Why did the Phantom not carry on with his vengeful plot? Why didn’t he kill Christine’s lover and force her to marry him? Why did he let them go? Because he loved her and true love does not force its way. Paul describes true love in 1 Corinthians 13, except that this love goes beyond eros (the kind of love that the Phantom, Christine and her lover were all feeling). The love that Paul writes of is perfect love…the love of God.

The key to this kind of love is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, it lets go.  I have often heard people say that you have to hold on to what you love; however, true love lets go.  God would love for us to send the love back; however, God lets us go so that we may be free to love whoever and whatever we want.  If we were forced to love God, it would not be love.  This Lent, take a page from God and learn to let go in the areas you find yourself struggling to hold on.  In doing so, you will find that LOVE is truly guiding you!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Letting go does not mean giving up; rather, it is giving in to the understanding that LOVE will find its way.

PRAYER

Lord, guide me to surrender all of the things I hold on to. Teach me to let them go. Amen.