For many people, the appeal of Jesus Christ Superstar is the magical way in which biblical figures are transformed into modern day rock stars.  Mary Magdalene sings about her real feelings for the man she cannot have (in the proverbial biblical sense of the word).  Judas cries out that he doesn’t need the captor’s blood money as he betrays Jesus and even claims that he wasn’t there on his own accord, but that it had all been seemingly planned or meant to be.  Jesus questions his heavenly father when his disciples fall asleep the night before he is taken. The musical makes the people in the New Testament somehow more human and easier to understand and relate to.  You don’t need to be Christian to appreciate the human side of the story.  Personally, as a Christian it helps me to understand the motives and feelings of the characters behind a religion that developed over 2,000 years before I was born.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus prayed to his father in the garden of Gethsemane. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” In the rock star version he sings, take this cup away from me, for I don’t want to taste its poison…would you ask as much of any other man?  Even the human Jesus was tempted to run away from his predators. It might be the animal instinct we all share. He surely knew what was in store for him. It would be enlightening to know what else he might have been thinking and feeling at that moment when his disciples fell asleep and he was forced to face his destiny alone.

Part of the human experience is going through hardships.  The problem lies in the troubles we do not choose for ourselves or for the people we love. Everyone will suffer, eventually.  Truly we don’t mature until we have experienced some suffering. In the right dosage it can make us more compassionate, more sensitive to others and less self-absorbed.

As I sing the song lyrics in my mind, I am reminded of unbearable situations that people have to face such as going off to fight a war, losing a loved one to an accident, facing cancer, facing bullying on a daily basis, learning to live with a debilitating illness or losing your home and everything you own to a fire.

I’ve never really liked the expression we all have a cross to bear.  Certainly there are times in our lives when we feel like we have been given more than we can handle, but the mere idea of a modern day crucifixion sends shivers down my spine.  The metaphor is just a bit too graphic.  There is another commonly used expression that I also find upsetting, what won’t kill you makes you stronger.  Thank you, Nietzsche for reminding us that there are things that can cripple us, break our bones or break our spirit. What if our burden actually kills us? Does that make us weak?  Should we feel proud and strong if we come out of the situation alive?  Does that make us in some way “better” than those who don’t survive?

Viktor Frankl wrote about those who were imprisoned with him in Auschwitz and Dachau. He claims that the best of them were not the ones who survived. There were many factors including luck and a reason to keep on living, but he describes how some of most generous, kindest prisoners were the first to die.  *As I am writing these words, today marks the 75thanniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

I prefer the lyrics from the song to the expressions above.  If there is a way, take this cup away from me, for I don’t want to taste its poison.  We are only human. We have to experience some adversity to truly appreciate what we have and not take life for granted, but sometimes the poison is just too much.

Today also marks one year since my son asked for help. At that time, we were all scared and worried, yet hopeful that with the right help he would be on his way to recovery.  It doesn’t feel that way today.  In the middle of the night as the rest of the neighborhood was sleeping, I continued to spiral in an endless circle of grieving and searching for answers, only to go the full 360 degrees again.  It feels that I’m being tortured. My heart and mind have been hijacked. I’ve been receiving my daily dose of poison, but I’m not becoming immune or numbed to it.  He is my child.  A mother cannot numb to her child, no matter what a well-meaning counselor might advise. It’s a daily tug and pull and the rope is fraying. I am the rope.

I will keep going because I have to and because I have a reason to. There are people in my life who have given me the gift of allowing me to lean on them.  Many before me have been through even worse.  I am not special. I am simply human. None of us is free from suffering. I didn’t ask to bear a cross. I don’t want to have to get close to dying to come up stronger. I simply want to stop drinking the poison.

Gethsemane (I only want to say). Jesus Christ Superstar

Enjoy the video!

https://youtu.be/nxhj9KH5mkI

I only want to say
If there is a way
Take this cup away from me
For I don’t want to taste its poison
Feel it burn me,
I have changed I’m not as sure
As when we started
Then I was inspired
Now I’m sad and tired
Listen surely I’ve exceeded
Expectations
Tried for three years
Seems like thirty
Could you ask as much
From any other man?

But if I die
See the saga through
And do the things you ask of me
Let them hate me, hit me, hurt me
Nail me to their tree
I’d want to know
I’d want to know my God
I’d want to know
I’d want to know my God
I’d want to see
I’d want to see my God
I’d want to see
I’d want to see my God
Why I should die
Would I be more noticed
Than I ever was before?
Would the things I’ve said and done
Matter any more?
I’d have to know
I’d have to know my Lord
I’d have to know
I’d have to know my Lord
I’d have to see
I’d have to see my Lord
I’d have to see
I’d have to see my Lord

If I die what will be my reward?
If I die what will be my reward?
I’d have to know
I’d have to know my Lord
I’d have to know
I’d have to know my Lord

Why, why should I die?
Oh, why should I die?
Can you show me now
That I would not be killed in vain?
Show me just a little
Of your omnipresent brain
Show me there’s a reason
For your wanting me to die
You’re far too keen on where and how
But not so hot on why
Alright I’ll die!
Just watch me die!
See how, see how I die!
Oh, just watch me die!

Then I was inspired
Now I’m sad and tired
After all I’ve tried for three years
Seems like ninety
Why then am I scared
To finish what I started
What you started
I didn’t start it
God thy will is hard
But you hold every card
I will drink your cup of poison
Nail me to your cross and break me
Bleed me, beat me
Kill me, take me now
Before I change my mind

 

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