The Lord Jesus Christ: human ‘superstar’?
With the spiritual tide at low ebb, you might think Christians would be pleased their Saviour is receiving some attention. If the public at large will not attend a place of worship, the next best might be to hear about Christ in a place of entertainment?
But the Christ of Superstar is infinitely at odds with the true Christ, as revealed in the pages of sacred Scripture.
I confess that I have not seen — and would never see — Superstar. But I do not believe this disqualifies my warning, anymore than the fact I have never experimented with drugs disqualifies me from discouraging others from doing so.
Consider Christ’s identity. The Bible reveals he is no mere ‘superstar’ — one amongst many human celebrities admired for their acting ability, skill at kicking a football, or simply ‘famous for being famous’.
No. The Bible reveals him to be in a completely different category from anyone else who has lived on earth. He is incomparable in person, ‘the Lord of glory’ (James 2:1), to whom one day every knee shall bow.
The Bible reveals that the man Jesus, who lived in Israel 2000 years ago, was none less than the eternal Son of God. When baptised in the river Jordan, aged 30 years old, God the Father spoke from heaven and confirmed Christ’s unique identity. ‘Lo a voice from heaven saying, this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:17).
The deity of Christ sets him apart. It is one of the fundamentals of the Christian faith and part of the fabric of the New Testament. Open the Bible anywhere and his deity is found explicitly or implicitly.
‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God’ (John 1:1); ‘he is the image of the invisible God’ (Colossians 1:15); ‘in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily’ (Colossians 2:9).
The Christ of the Bible transcends nations and epochs. He is in a totally separate league from the ‘superstars’ idolised today; he is in a league of his own.
A pop idol’s music may appeal to one, but repel another. A soccer player’s skill may thrill one, but leave cold another not interested in soccer. What appeals to one culture holds no interest for another. Celebrities come and go, but ‘Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today and for ever’ (Hebrews 13:12).
Christ has a universal appeal, because people in every country and culture have need of a Saviour. Christ is the only Saviour. He is God’s own provision, ‘the Saviour of the world’ (John 4:42).
The news media take great delight in building celebrities up to ‘superstar’ status, only to knock them down when their flaws and failings are revealed. When their heroes are exposed, we are reminded that ‘the best of men are men at best’.
If we could get to really know those whom we admire from afar, we would find them as human as us and possessed of the same sinful nature; for ‘none is righteous, no not one’ and ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:10, 23).
Yet Scripture presents us with a Christ who, uniquely among men, was ‘without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15). No human actor or singer is capable of portraying him, for he ‘knew no sin’ (2 Corinthians 5:21), ‘he committed no sin’ (1 Peter 2:22) and ‘in him there is no sin’ (1 John 3:5).
This sinlessness (impeccability) separates Christ from the greatest of earthly ‘superstars’. It qualifies him alone to be the Saviour of sinners.
Having lived a sinless life, he offered it up as an atoning sacrifice on Calvary’s cross so that sinners might be saved. And ‘whoever believes in him may have eternal life’ (John 3:15).
Yes, when they are in their prime, some human ‘superstars’ inspire admiration, but the greatest of this world’s celebrities cannot bestow eternal life. Only the Lord Jesus can and does.
The Bible reveals a Christ who overcame death and conquered the grave. He was ‘designated Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by his resurrection from the dead’ (Romans 1:4).
The resurrection of Christ has been termed ‘the most attested fact of history’. Yet Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber does not seem to believe in Christ’s resurrection. The ‘Christ’ in Jesus Christ Superstar dies and remains dead.
Such a ‘Christ’ is merely a martyr to his beliefs and powerless to save. He bequeaths no gospel to proclaim. ‘If Christ has not been raised your faith is futile and you are still in your sins’ (1 Corinthians 15:17).
The greatest of human ‘superstars’ will one day die and be buried, leaving a silent monument to his ‘superstar’ status. At the heart of the Christian faith though lies an empty tomb.
The empty tomb of Christ, along with his many resurrection appearances, cannot be explained away. They are the ultimate proof of his deity and power to save, and the pledge and promise that one day Jesus will raise every believer up to a new and glorious life, something the greatest of ‘superstars’ is powerless to do.
The ‘Christ’ of Superstar is a caricature of the true Christ. Scripture exhorts us to ‘test everything’ (1 Thessalonians 5:21) by the touchstone of Scripture; popularity is no test of truth. The Christ of Superstar is not the Christ of the Bible.
Personally, I would far rather take my view of Jesus Christ from what God says in his Word, as opposed to the imagination of a talented, knighted musician. Divine revelation versus human speculation? No contest!