Jesus Christ Superstar

Matt. 24:23: “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.”
II John 7, 10, 11: “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. . . .If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed; for he that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”
For weeks on end in Grand Rapids (and I suppose also in other parts of the country), the record album “Jesus Christ Superstar” has been on the top of the list of best selling records. It calls itself a “rock opera,” and presents the last week sof Christ’s passion and death.
Many have approved this particular recording. I have heard several of the arguments given in favor of its use by children of God. Some have pointed out that it is written from the point of view of Judas Iscariot – and that therefore the presentation of Christ is an understandably distorted one. Others have reminded us that the Divinity of Christ is usually overemphasized in the churches – and this recording refreshingly speaks rather of His real humanity. Again others point out that Jesus is called to the attention of many worldly people through this recording – which gives members of the church an opportunity to show them who the full Jesus really is. Again it has been said that youthful covenant children could better listen to a recording such as this than to some of the other trash produced by the world.
But that is all hogwash.
The recording, which may not even be familiar to our older church members, is being received enthusiastically by many young “Christians.” It was played at chapel on March 4, 1971 at Calvin College. I have heard that it has been used in some Christian High Schools. Its music was played as prelude and postlude at least at one Christian Reformed church service. But what particularly disturbs me is that some of our own young people have been speaking approvingly of the “opera.”
Therefore I thought it advisable to give you a few quotations from this “opera” that you may well know what it presents. I am not going to discuss its “rock” music – that is another subject in itself. I am principally concerned with its words. I grant that it does present the “gospel” according to the devil. And I want to show you that.
I could point out that the Biblical characters are not accurately presented in harmony with the Biblical account. Judas Iscariot is presented in a way that is meant to attract one’s sympathy. He only does what he knows Jesus wants him to do (betray Him). For this he is damned. Mary Magdalene presents herself as a harlot who has attracted another man: Jesus. The Apostles sing, “Always hoped that I’d be an apostle. Knew that I would make it if I tried. Then when we retire we can write the gospels. So they’ll still talk about us when we’ve died.” But this, serious though it is, is not what greatly troubles me.
There is rather the presentation of Jesus in this “opera.” Jesus Himself sings several times. And what He is imputed to say is nothing less than plain blasphemy. But judge for yourself.
Jesus – to those seeking to be healed:
(1) There’s too many of you – don’t push me
(2) There’s too little of me – don’t crowd me
(3) Heal yourselves!
Jesus – at the Last Supper:
(4) The end . . .
(5) Is just a little harder when brought about by friends
(6) For all you care this wine could be my blood
(7) For all you care this bread could be my body
(8) The end!
(9) This is my blood you drink
(10) This is my body you eat
(11) If you would remember me when you eat and drink . . .
(12) I must be mad thinking I’ll be remembered – yes
(13) I must be out of my head!
(14) Look at your blank faces! My name will mean nothing
(15) Ten minutes after I’m dead!
(16) One of you denies me
(17) One of you betrays me –
Jesus in Gethsemane:
(18) In the Garden of Gethsemane
(19) I only want to say
(20) If there is a way
(21) Take this cup away from me for I don’t want
(22) To taste its poison
(23) Feel it burn me, I have changed. I’m not as sure
(24) As when we started
(25) Then I was inspired
(26) Now I’m sad and tired
(27) Listen surely I’ve exceeded expectations
(28) Tried for three years seems like thirty
(29) Could you ask as much from any other man?
(30) But if I die
(31) See the saga through and do the things you ask of me
(32) Let them hate me hit me hurt me nail me to their tree
(33) I’d wanna know I’d wanna know my God
(34) I’d wanna see I’d wanna see my God
(35) Why I should die
(36) Would I be more noticed than I was ever before?
(37) Would the things I’ve said and done matter anymore?
(38) I’d have to know I’d have to know my Lord
(39) I’d have to see I’d have to see my Lord
(40) If I died what will be my reward?
(41) I’d have to know I’d have to know my Lord
(42) Why should I die?
(43) Can you show me now that I would not be killed in vain?
(44) Show me just a little of your omnipresent brain
(45) Show me there’s a reason for your waiting me to die.
(46) You’re far too keen on where and how and
(47) Not so hot on why
(48) Alright I’d die!
(49) Then I was inspired
(50) Now I’m sad and tired
(51) After all I’ve tried for three years seems like ninety
(52) Why then am I scared to finish what I started
(53) What you started – I didn’t start it
(54) God thy will is hard
(55) But you hold every card
(56) I will drink your cup of poison, nail me to the cross
(57) And break me
(58) Bleed me beat me kill me take me now –
(59) Before I change my mind.
Jesus to Pilate:
(60) I have got no kingdom in this world –
(61) I’m through, through, through
(62) . . . There may be a kingdom for me somewhere – if I only knew
Jesus finally sings the cross-words before dying – except the second one: “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.” Why this omission?
If you have any spiritual sensitivity at all, you will likely feel sick at heart at reading the above. Can any Christian young person possibly enjoy this? It is plainly devilish. Christ is not a “Superstar.” A “star” is one who assumes a role, pretending to be what he is not. A “superstar” is one who puts on a better pretense than any man has ever done before or since. No, Christ is not “Superstar”; He is the Son of God in our flesh.
The above quotations show not simply that Christ is presented in Him human nature, but:
(1) There is a denial of His Divine nature (cf. lines 23, 24, 24, 26).
(2) There is a presentation of Christ’s human nature with sin. (Obviously contrary to the teaching of Scripture. Cf. Hebrews 4:15. See lines 21, 22, 52, 53, 58, 59).
(3) There is presented a lack of consciousness of Christ’s part that His death was necessary to pay for the sins of His people. (Compare John 10:10, 11 with lines 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45, 46).
(4) There is a denial of His performance of miracles (cf. lines 1, 2, 3).
(5) There is a distortion of the idea of the Lord’s Supper, or rather, a denial of it (cf. lines 6, 7, 11, 12).
(6) Christ presents Himself as unconscious of the Kingdom that is His through His suffering and death (compare John 18:36 with lines 60, 61, 62).
The above represents only a brief survey of the “Christology” of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” It is sufficient, I am convinced, to affirm that it does NOT present that “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” And he who does not confess that, is a “deceiver and an antichrist.” A record such as this can indeed affect one emotionally; but let not such emission be confused with a religious “experience.” A devilish imitation of the gospel cannot be edifying spiritually. Such ought not, then, to be “received into one’s home” no receive the blessing of saints. Seek rather the Christ of Scripture who gave Himself that we, through Him, might have life.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 31 No. 4 June/July 1971