Movie of the Week: Jesus Christ Superstar by Norman Jewison 1973
Clip: 22:00 – 25:00 “This Jesus Must Die”
Old Testament: Psalm 149
New Testament: John 2:1-12
We won’t get too far along into the Passion story until Holy Week, but this scene from Jesus Christ Superstar takes us to the cusp of Jesus’ suffering. Here the triumphal entry is dramatized in the song “This Jesus Must Die.” An especially effective aspect of the song is the contrast between Jesus’ entourage cheering, “Hosanna, Superstar!” and “Jesus Christ, Superstar!” and the choral response, “He’s dangerous!” The crowd chants, “Tell us that you’re who you say you are.” The back and forth in this scene help illustrate the choices we have in coming to know Jesus.
Like the crowd gathered around Jesus, we are desperate that Jesus is who he says he is. But isn’t he also dangerous? When we give our life over to him, don’t we give up control of our own wants and desires? Those who fall in line with the plan of God are often called to a life of difficulty. The song ends with a chant, “Jesus must die.” Caiaphas says, “Like John before him, this Jesus must die.” We come from a long line of sufferers and martyrs.
Dietrich Boenhoffer famously wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” It is perhaps the most challenging teaching of Jesus. Paul speaks of the death that Christ brings to our life in Romans 6:5-11 (NLT).
5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
Consider how you have died to the power of sin. Paul speaks often of his battle between flesh and spirit – what is yours? What do you need to empty yourself of in order to receive more of Christ in you? Remember our prayer from earlier: “More of him, less of me.” I would imagine we all have a little more dying to do. Meditate on the phrase “He is dangerous,” and consider how your relationship with Jesus might be more dangerous as you die to yourself.