“I think you’ve made your point now.
You’ve even gone a bit too far to get the message home.
Before it gets too frightening,
We ought to call a vote,
So could we start again please?”
[Peter – Jesus Christ Superstar]
I don’t think there’s much doubt that Jesus was the most controversial person that walked this Earth. He stirred up radical thinking and ultimately caused division. But that wasn’t restricted to ‘His times’. Just recently I was playing the well loved game Headbands with a group of friends, one of whom was given the name Jesus to guess. She asked “Is he alive?” “Was he a King?” “Was he a celebrity?” Straight away our group was divided on each question. She asked how such simple questions could have such different answers. How can one man be so difficult to understand? So impossible to agree on?
The Peter depicted in Jesus Christ Superstar makes a good point; If this really is just a man, he’s gone too far, it’s Good Friday and it’s getting a little scary now. Effectively what Peter is saying is what the singer Paul Field once wrote; “Jesus do still believe that our worlds can interweave, Can you really be so sure that we’re all worth dying for?”
Because that’s the thing, this is not just a man. In fact, the chapter of Jesus’ arrest and death is full of irony. Satan’s apparent victory turns out to be his defeat while Jesus’ apparent defeat turns out to be his victory. An innocent man lays down His life for the strangers putting Him to death. Jesus died in the place of sinners, how can we see that? On that day, he literally took the place of Barabbas, a murderer, on the cross. An innocent man died while the sinner walked free. When speaking to Jesus, Pilate says “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” How ironic for Pilate to stand there and believe he had power over the life and death of Jesus, the only one with power to give life and free from death.
Because, He is not just a man. As he was dying people called out “Why don’t you save yourself?” A valid question, only, if He had saved himself, he wouldn’t have endured all the physical pain he went through, all the hurt of emotional turmoil and all the sin we committed thus proving he was not fully man. He would also be giving into temptation, showing only weakness, thus proving he was not fully God. As it was, He died on the cross, fully man and fully God.
The point is, this man suffered absolute humiliation, a complete absence from His father and a horrifically gruesome death; if there was even a small chance that all of this was for you, wouldn’t you want to know? Someone once said the Gospel was like an electric fence. So many people are sitting on the fence but the Gospel is there to electrify it, making you jump one way or the other.
So yes, Peter here raises a good point, if this is just a man, he has gone too far this time. But this is not just a man. The thing with Jesus Christ Superstar is that it finishes before the end of the story. It ends with His death, the greatest sacrifice a man can make. But what about the greatest miracle from the Lord Almighty just three days later. Fully man. Fully God.
“Who am I, that the Lord of all the Earth
would care to know my name?
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the bright and morning star
would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?
Not because of who I am
But because of what you’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who you are”
So the question is, what camp are you in, because if someone was to do all of that for me, I think I’d want to know 🙂