Monday, November 15, 2010

Take Two

Well, if you listened to my audio blog below, you'll know I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar in the Greenock Arts Guild last Friday. Well, I also went on Saturday. I was helping out front of house and stayed to watch the show again.

The second time was a different experience for me. I'd already been very critical the night before of the bad (and downright wrong) theology, so I knew when those parts were coming up, and rather than looking for them and being outraged by them, I was able to just ignore them and just watch the show. Many things, because of that, felt very different for me the second time.

For instance, there's a song (and I don't know the names of the songs, because I'm not all the familiar with the show) where Jesus says to Simon,

Neither you, Simon, nor the fifty thousand, nor the Romans, nor the Jews, nor Judas, nor the twelve, nor the priests, nor the scribes, nor doomed Jerusalem itself understand what power is, understand what glory is, understand at all.

(Gotta love Wikiquote.) I missed this the first night, but felt very moved the second night at this line. The context is that Simon is trying to convince Jesus to fight against the Pharisees (or the Romans?) to get even more glory and power. While I don't know that that sort of instance really happened, the sentiment still worked. Neither the disciples, nor even we, understand what Jesus was ALL about, or what glory and power really are. Jesus' glory and power were eternal and heavenly; they were not about things of this earth, as the disciples and the Jews expected their Messiah to be. This even applies today; so many Christians expect Jesus to fulfil all their earthly desires, often quoting 'He shall give you the desires of your heart', without realising that his fulfilment of our needs are primarily spiritual, and the physical is secondary. (Remember the paralysed man on the mat? Jesus forgave his sins first, and only after told him to get up and walk.)

The other thing that really got me the second time was Jesus crying out from the cross, 'Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing'. The first time, something about that annoyed me, and I couldn't put my finger on it. The second night I realised it was simply the way the phrase was turned. I think I'm used to hearing, 'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.' I know it's all English translation, and I wish I knew what the Aramaic actually would've been. But I like the 'for they know not what they do' translation better. Perhaps it's because I have a different view on the interpretation of that. Most people interpret that as Jesus saying, 'Forgive these people who are crucifying me because they don't know what a big deal this is, or who I am'. I don't really think that. I think that that was Jesus' darkest hour, literally. Moment later he would cry out, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' God had turned his face away from His Son during this time, for whatever reasons, many of which have been widely speculated on, which I won't go into at the moment, and not one of us can understand even remotely what this meant for Jesus. Jesus was God, and yet while on earth, he was also fully man. Yet even as man, he had perfect communion with the Father. He often stated that he only did what he saw his Father doing. He did everything according to His Father's will while living on earth. So can you imagine what it felt like for him to see that communion darkening as the Father turned His face from him? To be fully experiencing separation from God? When Jesus had been One with the Father from before the beginning as the second person of the Trinity, to begin to feel what mankind feels, prior to any revelation of God, which is a total and utter separation from God... that would've been excruciating. (And part of why even if one of us were to physically experience all Jesus did, we'd still never have suffered as he did.) So when he calls out 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!', I think he was saying, 'Father, forgive my elect, because they, in their utter darkness and separation of you, do not know just how wicked they are, they cannot see you, they don't know you at all!'

For the record, Scott totally disagrees with me on this interpretation. He takes it to literally mean those crucifying Christ. Since it's technically his blog too, thought I'd throw in his 2 cents.

So anyway, when I thought of that during the show, of Jesus asking his Father to forgive them, to forgive US, to forgive ME, for they, WE, I, do not know what we are doing, I was thoroughly broken. And that's when the sobs came. And from that moment on, I sobbed through the rest of the show.

(Fifi, the girl next to me, sobbed through it too. We were a noisy, embarrassing pair, the two of us. And once we noticed the other crying, we started giggling, which then made us cry harder and louder, and oh my goodness, were we a pair.)

So I'd say that, while I still do not like the show, I am glad I went the second night. I feel it really did change something in me. And the whole night after the show, at the after-show party, there were serious conversations all over the place about the Bible and religion and faith, and that, in my opinion, can only be a good thing.

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