Thirty years ago I was asked to perform in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. I was type-casted, not as Jesus, but as one of the priests who plotted to have Jesus executed. I and the other priests were place on a scaffold above the stage, looking down with condemnation on Jesus and his disciples as they entered Jerusalem. Like the movie, we sang “This Jesus Must Die.” The refrain in the Weber and Rice song still rings in my head, “He is dangerous.”
The 1973 movie captured the mood of this scene.
The 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. If 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.” Then one of them – it was Caiaphas, the designated Chief Priest that year – spoke up, “Don’t you know anything? Can’t you see that it’s to our advantage that one man dies for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed?” He 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. (John 12:47-51)
Jesus continues to be dangerous, even though people have tried to domesticate and soften the image of Jesus over the centuries. He is not some quaint moral teacher who loved children and stray cats. He was the Son of God who came to challenge our self-righteous lives and to call us into a transformed way of life.
I fear that society has made Jesus meek and mild and that we have forgotten how dangerous he truly is. It is deadly to follow Jesus. Like Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship, ““When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Are you willing to die with Jesus?
Lord Jesus, call me out of my complacent tomb into the Vibrant Life of Faith.