In the summer of 1978, I was part of a theatre company which did a summer stock performance of “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” I was not yet a believer in Christ as my Savior, but was fully convinced that this was a way for me to serve God, and have fun at the same time. I was ignorant of many things.
The director of this particular performance stated plainly in the playbill that his intent was to portray Jesus Christ as a man. Under his direction, the actor who played this role accomplished just that. His portrayal was of a gritty, passionate, weak human being…there was nothing of “superstar” (mercy) quality glistening there. The entire performance ended with the “man” on the cross, followed by a sudden blackout. No resurrection. No power. No overcoming. No curtain call. No accolades or bows.
In this play (which is a musical from which numerous songs hit the charts…not for spiritual significance, to be sure), I played a leper, dressed in rags, pitifully extending putrid hands toward this “man.” I was also one who waved choreographed arms in praise…to this “man” (the play received poor reviews on account of all the “flailing” if I recall correctly) in lieu of palm fronds. Finally, in the culminating scene, featuring the title song, I was one of three “soul sisters,” synchronized and sequined, repeating the query, “Only wanna know….only wanna know…Jesus Christ…who are you? What have you sacrificed?” It grieves me to type this…but isn’t this what many are asking today?
A year later, I trusted Christ as my Savior. One of the first things I did was to recant my participation in the above performance. I hated that I had been a part of portraying my wonderful Savior in such a way…and to my unsaved parents, who sat in the audience and witnessed it. I apologized to them as I shared my new faith. I wrote to my drama coach (who had played the part of Jesus) and patiently explained that the “man” he had fleshed out on stage was not the “mighty God…the Prince of Peace” whom I was privileged to know. I shared the gospel with him. I never heard a response.
Why do I share this? Wasn’t that experience an absolute catastrophe? Can Satan smile that he once again destroyed the hopes of hungry souls who perhaps came to that performance wanting to learn more about who Jesus is? I can tell you this. I played another role during those performances (not counting hours of rehearsal, we did 16 shows)…I was a member of an unseen mob. As the “man” suffered on the cross, he gave a very convincing display of suffering. Heaving, writhing, shuddering anguish…and I believe it was all that and so much more. Who of us can definitively spell out exactly what took place on that rough-hewn stage of two planks of wood? How can we even begin to form the words to suggest that we know what it was to take upon oneself the sins of the whole world, much less to be separated from the Father, with whom Jesus Christ was one? Our director worked us into a frenzy as we mocked and jeered from behind the curtains masking the proscenium.
A year later, and once again in darkness, in my bedroom…do you know what came back to me? In tandem with scriptures I had come to know, I remembered the words that came out of my mouth that night. That mocker was me. I prayed a prayer very similar to that of the publican:
“God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
And He was. Satan’s efforts at deception were thwarted. I had trusted Christ. Both of my parents eventually trusted Him too. So, when you pray for one who is steeped in self deception, or perhaps in his or her own concept of “religion,” remember that God is much bigger than our grandest efforts, and He can use whatever He chooses to drive the point home to a searching soul. He never throws up His hands in despair. King Jesus rides on in majesty, and is no mere man! He has led captivity captive.
If you wish to know more about trusting Christ, click on the “How to trust Christ” link in the left side bar. If you have questions, it would be my joy to help you.