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

02 April 2006

JCS: This Jesus Must Die

Listen Along!
106 - This Jesus Must Die

Ah, Pharisees. Right after Judas, probably the second most hated (disliked) villain in the Jesus story. But, here again, Jesus Christ Superstar gives a little bit more insight into the usuall one or two-dimensional ne'er-do-wells we assume they are from scripture. Well, they are ne'er-do-wells, but a little bit more complicated than we might first expect.

Everyone is aware that Jesus was a threat because he upset the power balance in Israel of the day. This guy seemingly comes out of nowhere and begins teaching, healing, and forgiving sins in the name of God. Whaaa? The Pharisees believed they had the monopoly on the word of God and clearly didn't want the competition from some dirty carpenter's son who lacked the strict training and learning that they had. So, yes, there's that selfish motivation of course.

And then there's the other side, which the song captures, attributing the foresight to Caiphas, "I see bad things arising--the crowd crown him king / Which the Romans would ban / I see blood and destruction, our elimination because of one man / Blood and destruction because of one man . . . The stakes we are gambling with are frighteningly high! / We must crush him completely - - / So like John before him, this Jesus must die / For the sake of the nation, this Jesus must die." Caiphas sees Jesus as a threat to their already embattled nation, Israel, from the occupying Roman legions. Should Jesus drum up enough support and begin a revolt, Israel would be crushed and would face even greater pressue under the boot of the Romans. So, in this respect the Pharisees were genuinely worried about something other than their own skins. Maybe.

It really is amazing to me how many layers the Roman occupation adds to the Jesus story when its taken into consideration and placed in the proper context. It really fills in the gaps and smooths in the cracks in a story that reads well, but has a couple of logistical leaps missing.

But, as I do my research, I realize that those gaps really are filled in, and in the Bible no less. D'OH! Check it, John 11:45-52:

45That was a turnaround for many of the Jews who were with Mary. They saw what Jesus did, and believed in him. 46But some went back to the Pharisees and told on Jesus. 47The high priests and Pharisees called a meeting of the Jewish ruling body. "What do we do now?" they asked. "This man keeps on doing things, creating God-signs. 48If we let him go on, pretty soon everyone will be believing in him and the Romans will come and remove what little power and privilege we still have."
49Then one of them--it was Caiaphas, the designated Chief Priest that year--spoke up, "Don't you know anything? 50Can't you see that it's to our advantage that one man dies for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed?" 51He didn't say this of his own accord, but as Chief Priest that year he unwittingly prophesied that Jesus was about to die sacrificially for the nation, 52and not only for the nation but so that all God's exile-scattered children might be gathered together into one people.

So, we get jiving here between the two. I think the dates are off a little, this scene comes right before Jesus and co. enter Jerusalem, right after the raising of Lazarus. JSC puts it on Palm Sunday. So, not too far off there either. Not one of my favorite songs, but it's fun to sing all the different parts :)


At 3:17 PM, Blogger Ben George said...

Good thoughts, Matt (as usual). I dig the other perspective of the Pharisees, but really what I'm wondering is how many of these songs have you been singing as you post?

At 3:58 PM, Blogger Matt Wiggins said...

Honest truth: none. But in the car on the way to and from places when I do my JSC listening? A LOT. I'm starting to do a fairly convincing Mary Magdalene.

At 12:13 AM, Blogger joeldaniel said...

the biggest thing they had correct...
this Jesus is dangerous!
dangerous enough that if you can't embrace him, you must surely destroy him.

way to go on finding the "listen along" link...made it even better!


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