Was Jesus Human?
A friend asked me a question I could not answer as I have never seen the movie or play called “Jesus Christ Superstar”. How does it relate to the bible? My friend is a believer and her husband is not. He was moved by the movie and she is upset not knowing about its contents. Thank you Roger and have a blessed day in the Lord.
“Jesus Christ Superstar” was a rock opera composed by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber many years ago (in 1970) focusing on the humanity of Jesus. It centers on the political and interpersonal struggles of Judas Iscariot and Jesus. Judas is depicted as a confused, tragic figure who is dissatisfied with what he views as Jesus’ lack of planning, and alarmed by the relatively recent claims of his divinity. He sells out his soul and ends his life in agony. Jesus is pictured as human being who is struggling with anxiety and doubt regarding His purpose in life. He is described as capable of falling at any time into sin because of all the temptations and human struggles He faces. He dies in agony on the cross wondering if perhaps He has made the biggest mistake in His life. There is no resurrection—only a haunting melody of defeat and despair.
I can see while your husband was intrigued by the musical. Jesus is portrayed so much like us. He is overwhelmed and struggling with His purpose in life as well as with temptations, trials and difficulties—just like us. While it seems obvious to me that the composers are not Christians, God has used them in a compelling way to help us understand a side of Jesus that we so often ignore—or fail to consider at all—the humanness of Jesus. In many ways I identified with Jesus’ humanity much more after seeing the opera.
However, as I watched the musical I was greatly offended. Jesus’ confusion, the mockings of His divinity, His anger and frustration with the people who clamored for help and healing left at first left a bitter taste in my mouth. In one particular scene the crowds were pressing in upon Him, demanding to be healed. They shrieked incessantly, “Heal me, heal me, heal me!” Finally, Jesus screamed out in frustrated desperation, “Leave me alone; heal yourselves!” Immediately, I was repulsed. “Jesus never said that!” I thought angrily.
However, as I reflected later I thought, “No, He never said that; but, I wonder if He ever felt that way?” I have. In moments of exhaustion I wished all the people would just go away and leave me alone! For the first time I entered into the sufferings of Jesus. I grieved for Him. Never in my life had a really considered just how much He gave up to be human like us.
The Bible clearly teaches that while Jesus is 100% God, He is also 100% human. This truth is known in theological circles as the “hypostatic union” which is inscrutable (incapable of human understanding).
Jesus is pictured as hot, thirsty and tired in John 4 when He asks a woman to draw Him water and give Him a drink. It was noon and while He made the water; but, He was human and couldn’t get to it without a bucket—her bucket. He made the sun which was beating down unmercifully on His head; so; He sat hot and thirsty.
Jesus is seen grieving over the upcoming fate of Jerusalem in Matthew 23. He is ignorant of the time frame of His own second coming. He is seen mourning in the Garden the night before the crucifixion. He is pictured as struggling with doubt as He and His Father discuss the crucifixion plan moments before its implementation. The theme of the entire Book of Hebrews is that Jesus is able to be a “Great High Priest” on our behalf because He has endured all the struggles and temptations of life—just like us. Jesus is much more real and intimate with me simply because I experienced the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
I hope my answer helps you understand the content of the opera as well as gives you a deeper understanding and appreciation for Jesus.
Regarding your friend’s husband, I think the fact that he was attracted to Jesus is a great starter point for talking to him about the gospel. Help him see that Jesus’ mission was to die for the sins of the world—just like ours. Show him how Jesus understands her husband and that the resurrected Jesus offers him a new life of strength, power, security and forgiveness (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 1:12 and John 7:37).
Well, D, thanks for the question. Ask me another soon.