"Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever." -Paul

11 April 2006

JCS: The Last Supper

Listen Along!
201 - The Last Supper

This is another great song that features those loveable, bumbling disciples: "Always hoped 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." I love that little statement, very reminiscent of the "Who is going to be considered the greatest?" debate that they had not too long after the supper (Luke 22:24).

However, what gets me about this song is its portrayal of the Last Supper/First Communion. In Matthew 26 we hear Jesus' words: "Take and eat, this is my body. . . . This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." In JCS we hear: "For all you care this wine could be my blood / For all you care this bread could be my body." A few lines later he sings, "I must be mad thinking I'll be remembered - yes / I must be out of my head! / Look at your blank faces! My name will mean nothing / Ten minutes after I'm dead." There is an air of desperation and resignation about this Jesus that I don't think is shared in the scriptures. Frankly, I find it disturbing. The beautiful and terrible symbolic sacrifice outlined in Matthew is reduced to a frustrated outpouring. It doesn't make sense. Up to now the whole of JCS is fairly accurate and on-target, if embellished, but this song just doesn't seem to make sense to me.

Granted, as Jesus says in JCS, it won't be long before one of his best friends denies him three times, even after knowing it's coming, and another good friend betrays him with a kiss. That can't be a happy thought. But one aspect that is missing from JCS (and three out of the four Gospels amazingly): the washing of the disciples' feet. Recorded in John 13 (John skips the Last Supper interestingly), this is an act of humble love and devotion. It had to hearten Jesus to do this act and know, at least in some way, what it would mean to them I think. And then you get Peter's request to be washed entirely, the sort of thing that makes a teacher beam with pride. But then again, there is a large amount of God-wrestling in the prayer at Gehsemane too.

I guess, all in all, this song is a parting of ways between the opera and me. I like the song but it doesn't paint an accurate picture of Christ at all in my mind.


At 8:06 PM, Blogger Ben George said...

Matt, I'm not sure where I'm at in relation to your statements. Mind you, I don't know the play as well as you, but I guess my hesitation comes with the question of whether Jesus knew exactly what was coming. The idea of fully human/fully God makes sense to me, but I wonder if he knew all (as is the case with the father). I don't know if we have clear guidance on this issue. My concern comes from Gethsemane where he flip flops about his sacrifice (take this cup from me; not my will, but your will). Just trying to play this idea out...thoughts?

At 12:15 AM, Blogger Matt Wiggins said...

Gethsemane doesn't me, that's a man who is very much doubting, to the point of sweating blood. I don't think I've ever had that much doubt! But the frustration at the Last Supper, that's what gets me.

Does that make sense?

At 8:43 AM, Blogger joeldaniel said...

since we view Christ as fully God, my thought would be that he knew what was coming. his humanity was shown in the struggle...because he knew what was coming, it feels as if he's saying, "i know this has to be done, but if there's any other way, i wouldn't mind skipping the whole pain part". BUT then he follows through with it thoroughly.


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