Why ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Should Be A Part of Your Holy Week

I am in love with Holy Week. It’s my favorite time of the Christian year. Christmas is oh so magical, but Holy Week has a certain reverence like a hush, like a whisper, like a silence, like a last breath that leaves me breathless. I’m left feeling so close to Jesus, so faith-filled. (I’m also a complete basket-case during Holy Week; I just can’t hold it together. I’m always crying. It’s a very emotionally raw time for me.)

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 My wonderful church, Messiah Episcopal, on a chilly Palm Sunday

All that being said, I first came to know of the spectacle that is ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in high school. At this time I was struggling spiritually. I would say it was the closest I have ever been to what one would grandly coin a ‘faith-crisis.’ It’s not so much that I didn’t believe in God; it’s that I was angry and terribly confused in my transition from the faith of a high school student in an evangelical mega-church to my current adult beliefs.

Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)Directed by Norman JewisonShown: Ted Neeley

Enter ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ I watched it and was completely smitten. What could be more original than a bunch of sweaty hippies who drive out to the desert in their peace bus and put on a play of the Passion? And what could be better than that classic blonde-haired, blue-eyed 70’s Jesus replete with soul patch?!

Frame05-Bus

All jokes aside, this movie really is a solid piece of spiritual art. Now I really lost you right? ‘You’re saying a funktastic, black Judas, a flower-child Mary Magdalene, and a cast of hippies singing rock opera all add up to something biblical?!’ Well, maybe not entirely scriptural but definitely something that moved me closer to Jesus in even my darkest time of faith.

judas-christ-e-maddy

The characters we know so well are made very human and very real. I am aware that the whole ‘Mary Magdalene and Jesus as an item’ thing is so overblown, BUT this movie approaches it very beautifully and tenderly and, in my opinion, realistically. Mary, having been used and abused and ‘loved’ by so many men, feels confused when faced with the unconditional love of Jesus. She feels overwhelmed, twinges of her romantic love mix with twinges of something SO much greater than she can even comprehend (the love between God and His people). This song is so tender, and I don’t think it is a stretch to say she really could have felt this way (And of course, I’m already bawling LOL):

Also, the film exposes the humanity of Jesus in a very real way. Jesus seems so vulnerable and tired (“After all I’ve tried for 3 years, seems like 30, seems like 30”).

He appears terrified of death and even doubtful of his impact on humanity. It breaks my heart every time. In the midst of his desperation and self-doubt, there is a powerful montage of crucifixion iconography and you feel the lasting legacy that Jesus has left through his ultimate sacrifice. You’re left wanting to cry out, “Yes! You will be remembered! I remember you!”

And finally did I mention it’s epic and oh so funkay:

I had the privilege of seeing Ted Neeley, the man who played Jesus in this movie, in the stage production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at the Orpheum! Life-changing!!!

All that being said, I encourage you, Christian or not, to watch this film. It really is a gem. Watch it for the music and watch it for its raw sentiments. And what could be a better time than Holy Week? Kick back on Holy Saturday, and let this retelling of the Passion transport, move, and refresh you. I guarantee you’ll be ready to wake up Easter morning and exclaim with fervor that the Lord is risen indeed!!!

xoxo chloe ella

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8 thoughts on “Why ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Should Be A Part of Your Holy Week

    • To me the entire Easter Season is filled with love, darkness, betrayal, miracles, and ultimately “AMAZING GRACE”!!! In 1970, I had the privilege of seeing the Andrew Lloyd Webster version of the ROCK OPERA – JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. To this day, it leaves me with a significant and lasting impression. My tears still fall whenever I hear the the torch ballad – “I Don’t Know How To Love You” sung by the character Mary Magdelene (my #1 bibical heroine & seven demon soul-mate). The song is hauntingly beautiful and speaks of the “unrequited love” which can never be realized between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The “pureness of their relationship” must prevail. Simply beautiful!
      May you and Eddie’s Easter Season be blessed!
      Halleluiah! Christ the Lord is Risen TodaY!!!

      • I have been playing that song all week! There is something about her voice that is so haunting & unique & un-Broadway. When I saw the stage play, I was not nearly as impressed with the Mary Magdalene as her voice and mannerisms were very overblown and Broadway. Webber created a very specific, subtle earthy, conflicted, beautiful character in her.
        SO good to spend time together today on this beautiful Easter!<3 love you<3
        THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED!!!! HALLELUJAH!!

  1. OOPS! Let’s make that ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER.
    True story: I just bought a new book titled WEBSTERISMS – A Collection of Words and Definitions Set Forth by the Founding Father of American English (Noah Webster). Now, who in their right mind finds reading a dictionary from the 1800’s fascinating??? Oh well, my apologies to LLoyd as I just “VITIATED” his name and must have had “Webster on my mind.

    • HAHA! I bet you will find lots of spectacular words that have since gone by the wayside! We all know ‘selfie’ won’t be in that dictionary; that alone makes it better than the current Webster!! ;P

  2. Yes, we love playing clips of this awesome movie when relevant in sr. high sunday school at Messiah! Usually, none of the students have seen it! Good recommendation.

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