This past Sunday our
Youth Choir, under the creative and visionary direction of Clark Sorrells, and
with the support of 80-plus adult volunteers, presented (magnificently!) Andrew
Lloyd Webber’s and Tim Rice’s Jesus
Christ Superstar. 
Jesus Christ Superstar distresses some
people; because it isn’t a complete, or completely accurate, presentation of
the story of Jesus. Certainly, Superstar
doesn’t say everything about Jesus that Christians believe to be essential;
but, in my view, it gives us a compelling and significant portrait of the
humanity of Jesus.  The classic Christian
affirmation of Jesus is that he was both “fully divine” and “fully human,” but
too many of his followers don’t embrace his humanity.  As a consequence, their Jesus is a faint and
bland imitation of the vibrant and colorful human being we discover in the New
Superstar’s Jesus unsettles many people, because he
lived and died on the knife edge of despair and doubt; he was nearly
consumed—not quite, but nearly—by gnawing frustration, relentless fatigue, inexorable
fate, and looming failure.  Other people are
troubled by Jesus’ openness to the overflowing love of Mary Magdalene, a love
she did not fully understand.  There are passion
and uncertainty, ardor and ambiguity, in Superstar’s
version of their relationship.   
In these and
other ways, Superstar pushes us to
acknowledge the humanity of Jesus. Human beings experience the pangs of hunger
and thirst, the energies of sensuality and sexuality, the comforts and
delights, as well as the pain and hurt, of touch, the frustrations of fatigue,
struggles with doubt, the need for beauty and truth, the yearning to love and
be loved, the desire to be caught up in joy, the longing for ecstasy, and the
lure of transcendence. All of these experiences, and more, are part of human
nature.  Jesus dealt with them, just as
we do.    
For me, Jesus is the
human face of God
(a phrase I borrowed from John A. T. Robinson).  When I look at Jesus, I see what a human
being is meant to be. He was awake and aware. 
He did not endure life; he
engaged and embraced it.  He was
passionate about freedom, justice, and peace, impatient with pretense, and
suspicious of power.  He welcomed the
stranger and the marginalized.  He laughed
and cried.  He showed us the joy of
compassion and forgiveness. He delighted in the beauty and abundance of
creation.  He had eyes and ears for the
extraordinary wonders which wait to be discovered in ordinary things.  He was gloriously and wondrously alive.  When I see Jesus, I see what it means to be
human, and he awakens in me a desire to be like him.